The Catalogs of My Youth

12.4.2010 — 7 Comments

I was reminiscing the other day about some of my favorite mail-order catalogs that I remember running off of the school bus hoping that they had arrived:

Things You Never Knew Existed (and couldn’t possibly live without):
This catalog definitely had the best-ever title. I mean what 8-10 year old didn’t want to have a stack of catalogs of “things they’d never known to have existed”?! Me. That’s who! This catalog was brought to school with me on more than one occasion and I remember sitting around the lunch table with friends dreaming of affording even the cheapest items inside. I can’t remember ever actually purchasing anything from TYNKE, but I can remember bugging my parents about more than one item that I couldn’t have possible lived without!

Turns out this catalog is still available from the Johnson Smith company! Sign up for a catalog here! (I just did!) Catalog is FREE for US-customers and $2.95 for Canadian customers.

The Lighter Side:
This was a sister-catalog to the “Things You Never Knew Existed” catalog and I think it only arrived once before my parents put this on the ‘do not give to Stevan without first going through it with a black Sharpie marker’ list. I think there were inappropriate t-shirts and other items that I shouldn’t have been browsing. I remember putting up enough of a fuss about NOT getting this piece of mail that my parents opted for the ‘censorship’ idea and blacked-out anything they deemed ‘inappropriate’. As I recall from the one-or-two-times I ever ‘sneaked’ into a Spencer’s Gifts store as a teenager…this catalog was like a glimpse of their shelves.

U.S. Cavalry:
I believe I got my first US Cavalry catalog in the mail when I first started playing paintball regularly when I was around 11 years old. This catalog had EVERYTHING a pre-teen could EVER want in the realm of ‘stuff that made us think we could look/act like real military or policemen. I can’t imagine that I ever was able to purchase anything from this catalog, either. Not being able to afford anything didn’t deter me from taking this one to school often and dreaming through its pages during my ‘study hall’.

US Cavalry still offers a free catalog. I signed up for one here.

The Sportsman’s Guide:
Due to the way-too-expensive nature of the US Cavalry items, I somehow stumbled upon this great catalog, “The Sportsman’s Guide” which offered (and still offers) amazing discounts on military surplus items and other sportsman-related items. One of my favorite features of the Sportsman’s Guide was the fact that their toll free phone number used to end in “3006” and with my basic gun-knowledge I would pride myself in telling my friends the number and saying the last four numbers as “thirty-aught-six”. Wow, this post is becoming quite the confession-opportunity.

The catalog is still offered for free here.

The Cabella’s catalog was by-far the most well put-together catalog I ever received. It was during my middleschool and early high school years that I got interested in fishing and this catalog fed my fishing-supplies curiosities. Where else could a kid find PAGES of fishing lures that made his local tackle shop look like an embarrassment to the sport? I haven’t received a Cabella’s catalog in years but still VERY MUCH enjoy stopping at their retail stores any opportunity I have.

Cabella’s still offers a free mail-order catalog here.

Tower Hobbies
Tower Hobbies’ catalog was the one catalog that actually cost (and still does) money. I don’t think I every actually bought one, but rather received a friends’ year-old catalog when they would get the new one. This catalog was FILLED with R/C vehicles and all the accessories. I remember writing out my wish-list from the pages of this catalog to build my dream R/C plane with paintball-shooting capabilities.

The catalog is available for $3 here.

KIPP catalogs were never really ‘mine’, but they were around the house quite often. These were the equivalent of today’s Oriental Trading catalogs. However, I think I remember the KIPP catalog being much more interesting (and receive much-less often). This catalog was full of items that we could only ever dream of buying in mass-quantities of a gross-or-more, I think. And I can remember saving my money with my little sister and buying a few items from KIPP and then re-selling them to our friends for a profit under the name, “S&S Gifts and Gags” (S&S = Stevan & Sherilyn).

The catalog is still available, but you have to sign up for an account, apparently here.

What catalogs do you remember from your adolescence? What am I forgetting from my own growing-up years?

  • Jess

    I’ve never heard of any of these. Well, I know what Cabella’s is now that I’ve married you, but I can’t say I’ve ever looked at their catalog.

    • Stevan

      that’s because since I married you I’ve matured by leaps and bounds!

      • Jess

        I think you may be correct! Love you, Babe!

  • Aaron Kipfer

    And, for whatever reason, it’s much more satisfying to flip actual catalog pages for this kinda stuff than to go online.

    • Stevan

      Yes! That’s totally true, Aaron – I’m all-about online shopping, but there IS something that is unrivaled (so-far) about thumbing through catalogs of stuff I love!

  • Aaron Kipfer

    Loved Cabela’s as a kid. My bro and I would always dream of what we could buy (but rarely did) – mostly fishing lures and jigs and fake shad and whatnot. :)

    Another I forgot about until just now; Harriet Carter. My grandma used to subscribe, and it was always the first thing I’d look for when we went to their house.

    • Stevan

      YES! Harriet Carter catalogs were sometimes in our home, too, I think they came around the same time as the Reader’s Digest? It did seem to be a “senior citizen” catalog to me.. :)

      Fought the temptation just now to send for a free catalog…