Montgomery Ward Grand Opening

Grand Opening of the Montgomery Ward Catalog Store, Riverhead, 1964. (Image from the Sigal Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives [172.33.1G]. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.)

In 1872, Aaron Montgomery Ward, a traveling dry goods salesman, started selling to farmers by mail order via a one-page catalog list. By inventing the mail-order catalog, Ward could keep prices low through bypassing the small-town shopkeepers and itinerant salesmen. In 1875, Ward pioneered another practice now taken for granted: “Satisfaction Guaranteed or Your Money Back!”

Montgomery Ward’s Catalog Store opened in 1964 in Riverhead at 127 East Main Street to a huge crowd of local shoppers. The two-story Sigal Building was built in 1938 by Al Sigal, a Riverhead developer who kept his offices on the second floor. None of the original façade, which was sheathed in green and black carrara glass panels separated by chrome strips, remains intact. On the east side there was a drive through to a back parking area. The entrance hall was lined with red marble from the French luxury liner Normandie, which burned in New York Harbor in 1942. The building once housed “House of Music” and then Montgomery Ward and other stores. Today the building is home to Vines & Hops.

unnamed-1

Image from the Sigal Collection of the Suffolk County Historical Society Library Archives [172.33.1G]. Copyright © Suffolk County Historical Society. All rights reserved.