Saturday, October 4, 2008

National Bellas Hess Catalog 1962

Bellas Hess, National Cloak & Suit,
National Bellas Hess, Charles Williams Stores

I remember as a little girl and teenager most of our clothes came from National Bellas Hess catalog out of Kansas City. The main reason was Dad and Mom had a credit account there. I remember carrying the payments into Bellas Hess, they were located on the West side of the square next to Thorpes. Mom also had worked at Bellas Hess in Kansas City before she married Dad. Her and her sister June took an apartment in Kansas City during this time. I think the year would have been 1941? When Mom would have been around 20 years old. I always wondered how much Mom had to pay for the really nice dresses she wore. According to the 1962 catalog, $2.99! Wow! and they were really nice quality!

National Cloak & Suit was founded about 1888. Around 1910 a reorganization brought about National Bellas Hess, into which Charles Williams stores were merged in late 1929. Bellas Hess survived until the late 1970s.

At one time National Bellas Hess was one of the top five mail order companies in the country, but slid into bankruptcy in the late 1970s. In the 1960s it did about $250-million a year with 25 million catalogues mailed annually. Former employees attribute their demise to the fact that the company more or less abandoned its mail order mission in favor of discount retail stores and supermarkets. A look at these following catalogues shows that there was nothing cheap about their wares in 1909 to 1918. The quality stands out!

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