Looking Back to Friday Night Shopping at Montgomery Ward in Tyler
I thought I'd take a little trip down memory lane, A Flashback Friday if you will. Before Walmart was the number one retailer in the world, before JC Penny, even before Target, there was Montgomery Ward. There used to be a two story shopping experience where Tyler Spine and Joint is now full of electronics, the latest fashions, home goods and an escalator I loved playing on.
I remember heading out as a family to eat at Bonanza (remember that cheap steakhouse) on a Friday night then heading to Montgomery Ward. It was like a lot of retail stores then, clothes, electronics, household items and more were available. I remember saving my money for Super Mario Bros. 3 and buying it there.
But, whatever happened to this store?
Searching for it on Wikipedia (not the most reliable source, I know) resulted in some good information. The company started in 1872 in Chicago as a mail order business. They didn't open their first store until 1926 in Plymouth, Indiana.
From there, the company grew but had its share of ups and downs. Rival Sears wanted to buy them in 1930 but they declined. Throughout the 1930's and into early 1940's, Montgomery Ward was the largest retailer in the United States.
After WWII, though, the decline began. The company was seized by the government in 1944 because they would not resolve a worker's strike. In the 1950's, they began to lose ground to retailers such as Sears, Macy's and Dillards. The decline continued from there through to the 90's.
In 1997, the company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and the employee's pension was terminated in 1999. The company still had distribution centers, including one in Fort Worth that was later turned into Montgomery Plaza.
A group thought the name was still viable and bought the intellectual property rights and an online and catalog based company. Probably explains why I got this catalog in the mail a few years ago.
So there you go, Montgomery Ward still exists in a small form of it's former self. I remember it because it was a favorite store for my mom and dad, and if I recall, I liked playing on the escalator when we were there.