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Worse, they figured harder problems out -- they had solved the delivery problem in suburban and rural areas for large items. there was a Sears franchise network where you could pick up stuff delivered by an 18 wheeler or rail rather than wait for parcel post or ups.

Yep. Those were called "catalog stores", as I recall, and if you had your item sent to the catalog store shipping was free (or maybe reduced price -- it's been a long time, but there was definitely some kind of break on shipping costs).

I think they had a dock and you could get really big items too. IIRC, the farmer I worked for picked up a giant generator on a flatbed at one of these places.

Not sure if that was a Sears purchase or not though.

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