New Sears Wish Book a blast from the past

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Sears is bringing back its Wish Book Catalog in its more traditional form as a showcase of products for the holidays across all categories.

The Sears Wish Book was first published in 1933 and, for most of its life, existed in a general catalog format. However, starting in 1993, when Sears stopped publishing Big Book catalogs, the Wish Book started shrinking in both page count and dimension. At the same time, Sears experimented with the catalog's merchandise mix and circulation strategy.

In 2005, for example, Sears, Hoffman Estates, IL, produced a 34-page, 2.5-by-2.5-inch accordion-style mini-catalog called the Little Big Wish Book that was passed out at holiday events, given to customers at Sears Auto Centers, placed inside packages that were purchased on Sears.com and Landsend.com, and included with in-home deliveries.

At 188 pages, the latest Wish Book is still smaller than a traditional general catalog, which could number 300 pages or more. It will be "distributed to fewer customers," according to a statement from the company and will be available online to encourage the use of less paper.

The new catalog features a selection of gift ideas, including toys, apparel, jewelry, appliances, tool and holiday items in what Sears is calling "contemporary design and format that are tailored to today's lifestyles and shopping habits." Gift ideas are sorted by themes such as "Gifts for the Do-it-yourselfer" or "The Inner Athlete."

The catalog complements other Sears channels by highlighting key items that are available in additional styles or colors online or in-store. It also features items that are "Ready in 5," which are products that can be ordered online and picked up at the store of the customer's choice less than 5 minutes after the customer arrives. The catalog also features an expanded assortment of catalog- and internet-exclusive products.

On November 19, TV personality Ty Pennington will unveil a larger-than-life Wish Book Catalog in New York's Time Square.

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