Business: Is the Store Becoming Obsolete?

Yes, say new champions of an old idea: mail order

Shopping is not as much fun as it used to be. During peak buying seasons like the monthlong countdown to Christmas that begins every year after Thanksgiving, it can be downright agony for some people. Parking is a pain, stores are crowded, and sales clerks are often inexperienced or hard to find. One result has been a burst of new activity in an old idea: mail order. Not since Chicago Merchant Aaron Montgomery Ward put out his first "catalogue"—a one-page number flogging bed ticking, hoop...

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