The name wish book was not a product of the copywriters at Sears. It was created by the customers.

Sears catalogs were always filled with anything you could ever hope to have, from the everyday to the fantastic, regardless of season. So much so, loyal Sears customers referred to every catalog as a “Book of Wishes” or simply their “Wish Book.” When Sears released their first Christmas catalog in 1933, customers decided that this was the true “Wish Book,” thus creating a holiday institution that would last into the next century.

The cover of the 1968 Sears Christmas Book— the first to officially be called Wish Book— reads:

“America’s favorite Wish Book…because it offers the imaginative products and ideas that dreams are made of.”
Select product pages

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Although the Wish Book contained hundreds of pages of practical items and gifts for adults, it was the toy section that made the Wish Book memorable and magical. In a time before the internet and big box stores, it was the largest array of toys children could ever hope to see in one place. Millions of Christmas lists were created just by dog-earing its pages and adding checkmarks or asterisks next to their favorite products.

The Wish Book was released in late summer, which gave eager kids and adults alike months to pore over the catalog and make their own unique wishes. Maybe a new Easy Bake Oven to make cakes for tea parties (thrown with the pink tea set circled on page 317, of course). Marionettes and a pop-up theater with real working footlights to entertain the neighborhood. A set of red, gleaming luggage to “put a sparkle” in Mom’s eye. The possibilities were seemingly endless and they were all in one place, right at your fingertips. The products that dreams are made of. The Wish Book made the intangible seem tangible.

Select product pages

Select product pages

While the Wish Book has long been out-of-print and Sears Crosstown closed for even longer, the memory and spirit of the catalog remains something special, something universal that can still fill us with excitement and hope. It’s the same spirit that we hope lives on through the mission of Crosstown Concourse. It’s the new Wish Book.

This time around, it’s less about products and more about what is possible when you put imaginative ideas into one physical space. A space where you can find anything a thriving community could ever hope to have, from healthcare and healing to arts and education. A space where possibilities are open to anyone and everyone. And, just like the name Wish Book, it will be created by people just like you.

It’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of.

Assembly of the Sears  Wish Books

Assembly of the Sears Wish Books