Sears started selling kit homes in 1908. Montgomery Ward followed suit in 1909.
Sears started offering financing (mortgages) on their kit homes in 1917. Montgomery Ward reluctantly began offering mortgages in 1925.
In 1931, Montgomery Ward saw the writing on the wall and got out of the kit home business. Sears followed suit in 1934 (but re-entered the game in 1935, and closed down the kit home business once and for all in 1940).
Sears and Wards had a lot in common.
One night, I was going through the pages of my 1927 Wardway Homes catalog and found that one of Montgomery Ward’s modest little houses was named, “The Kenmore.”
Interesting name for a Montgomery Ward product!
Was the #2 mail-order giant poking a stick in the eye of the #1 mail-order giant?
What I do know is, Sears first used the brand name “Kenmore” in 1913 for one of their better-quality, portable sewing machines. It sold for $6.75 (including cabinet-grade wooden cover).
Six years later, the Kenmore name disappeared from the Sears catalogs and didn’t reappear until 1934.
Who knows why Ward’s chose the name Kenmore for one of their most-modest kit homes. However, it’s now an interesting little footnote in the history of American merchandising history and kit homes.
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