Purchases were made differently then. Fewer items were bought, and durable goods tended to last longer and were repaired more often. Today’s “planned obsolescence” of goods that end up tossed in the garbagewaste dump after a few months was unheard of in those days.
More frivolous items like sports equipment and bicycles weren’t bought on a regular basis and an anxious kid may have had to wait for a birthday or Christmas, if at all. Perhaps in the 1950s and ’60s, people – especially parents – were better able to distinguish the difference between “needs” and “wants.”
More expensive items were not bought on the spur of the moment. A pricey item such as the computer of those days, the typewriter, would be purchased in the same manner a car is now. It would require days or weeks of consideration and budgeting, and even then it would be postponed until one could get to the most inexpensive dealer.
But in those days, before the term “instant gratification” was ever conceived, even the most rural consumers had access to a world of shopping that was about as diverse as any of the huge Wal-Marts today – maybe bigger. They had the huge 700-plus page of Sears, Roebuck and Co. catalog.
Browsing the catalog was that era’s version of window shopping. True, once you decided to make a purchase, it would still take a week or more to receive the goods, but practically anything could be bought if a person had some money and some time.