👓 Sears’s ‘radical’ past: How mail-order catalogues subverted the racial hierarchy of Jim Crow | Washington Post

Read Sears’s ‘radical’ past: How mail-order catalogues subverted the racial hierarchy of Jim Crow (Washington Post)
Monday’s announcement that Sears would file for bankruptcy and close 142 stores came as little surprise to anyone who has followed the retail giant’s collapse in recent years. Still, the news inspired a wave of nostalgia for a company that sold an ideal of middle-class life to generations of Americans. A lesser-known aspect of Sears’s 125-year history, however, is how the company revolutionized rural black Southerners’ shopping patterns in the late 19th century, subverting racial hierarchies by allowing them to make purchases by mail or over the phone and avoid the blatant racism that they faced at small country stores.

A rehash and an expansion of a tweetstorm I saw the other day.

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  • Chris Aldrich

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