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Retro Rewind - Posted November 24, 2017 noon
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Photo from Amarillo Public Library archives

Montgomery Ward

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One of the pioneers of modern American retailing, Montgomery Ward first entered the Amarillo market in 1931. Montgomery Ward Inc. began as a mail order catalog nearly 60 years earlier before launching a brick-and-mortar location in Indiana in 1926. Within five years, the company brought its department store concept to 10th Avenue and Polk Street in downtown Amarillo. In 1933, it expanded a few blocks north, where the retail giant enjoyed more than 25,000 square feet of shopping space in the 700 block of South Polk. (Located south of the existing S.H. Kress building, the original Ward’s is no longer there.)

Notably, Montgomery Ward became the first major tenant at Western Plaza when the new shopping center opened in 1967. At the time, Western Plaza was billed as the largest mall between Oklahoma City and Albuquerque, and Montgomery Ward took up 30 percent of its total area and employed 300 people. Once popular, Western Plaza began to decline when Westgate Mall opened in the 1980s. The Montgomery Ward department store chain shut down in early 2001. Western Plaza was destroyed in 2007 to clear room for new development.

This December 1939 photo shows shoppers and employees at the downtown location during “Ward Week,” a highly anticipated twice-annual sale.

by Jason Boyett

Jason has written more than a dozen books and is the host and creator of “Hey Amarillo”, a local interview podcast. Visit heyamarillo.com and jasonboyett.com.
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