When I think about shopping in the 16th and 17th century, my Hollywood tainted imagination starts stirring up images of trading posts owned by old men with white hair, general stores that smell like horses, and markets on the streets.
I was not entirely off. In 16th and 17th century North America you would do your shopping and ordering at the general store. In Europe, markets and smaller general stores were the norm.
But, before all of this “in-person” buying and selling, most of the Western World also dabbled in a different method of retail: the mail-order* catalog.
*Mail Order traditionally, was the process of selecting an item through a catalog, sending the company your order along with cash for the product plus shipping through post. You would receive your product by post in the following weeks.