Damark – The “Great Deal” Catalog
On the lines of Fingerhut catalogs that are still being sent to millions of houses today, well known as a recognizable source for borderline useful tchotchkes for the home, the Damark catalog generally provided similar product offerings in the form of electronic devices.
Apparently, Damark (up until the year 2000) ran a number of shopper’s clubs, sort of like BJs and Costco. But in my Northeast area of the country, those stores were as unknown as Fry’s electronics. Instead, we received mail order catalogs. Inside these catalogs was an eclectic selection of merchandise which consisted of about 90% electronic items and 10% household goods. Think Brookstone stores, but with a higher percentage of electronic goods. Recently, I came across a September 1990 Damark catalog in a collection of magazines I had stored away. It’s the only copy I have, but I felt the need to share it, so I scanned it to PDF and posted it on this website. You can download it here: Damark September 1990 Catalog
One thing about these catalogs is that they are a snapshot in time when it comes to consumer electronics. Perusing through it, there appears to be no class of electronic item that would be excluded. I suppose that if they got a good deal on any closeout electronics (or even beadspreads), it’ll end up in the catalog.
Some of the items look familiar to me, but have a different manufacturer name (or it is listed as “Famous Maker”). On the front cover of the September 1990 catalog, there is a Cordata brand 386 IBM-compatible computer that looks very similar to an Amstrad computer that we had on display in the Electronics Boutique store I worked at around the same time. The same goes for the cell phone also on the front cover. I had one that looked the same. I forget the brand, but I bought mine at a Silo store.
You’ll also find average quality brand names such as Goldstar, Emerson, Sharp, and Craig. In fact, I don’t ever remember Emerson creating computer modems, but right there on page 14 of the catalog, is an Emerson 2400 Baud external modem for the “Damark Price” of $99.99 (data cable not included, I’m sure). It reminds me of the old Supra brand modems. Perhaps they were, but rebranded by Emerson.
Since this is a 1990 catalog, there won’t be a shortage of VCRs purporting to have the best quality video output your money can buy.
I noticed one item on page 36 that I bought a long time ago. It is called the “Sound Sender.” It takes the output of your portable cassette or CD player and rebroadcasts the audio to your FM radio in the car. Mine looks just like the one in the catalog, but I believe I got mine at K-Mart and not Damark. Back then, I did not have access to a credit card, and I didn’t want to risk sending a check, so I never bought anything from the Damark catalog. I just enjoyed looking at the product line.
There are far too many items to talk about in this catalog, so I encourage you to look at the catalog yourself. Maybe you will recognize something you once had, even if it from a different manufacturer. If you find something like that, let others know in the comment section below this article.