Kenmore is a name most of us associate with Sears products. For years and years, my mother had a Sears Kenmore sewing machine that she’d bought in 1949, a few weeks before my eldest brother was born. It was purchased so she could sew my brother’s layette.( When Mom passed on in 2002, that sewing machine was still going strong!)
Kenmore appliances were best sellers for Sears, and as a young mother in the early 1980s, I remember visiting the local Sears store where I’d drool over the hoity-toity “Lady Kenmore” matching washer-dryer sets!
So imagine my surprise when I was flipping through the 1920s Wardway Homes catalogs and found a Wardway kit home, The Kenmore. Was the #2 mail-order giant poking a stick in the eye of the #1 mail-order giant? Wish I knew!
What I do know is, Sears first used the brand name “Kenmore” in 1913 for one of their better-quality, portable sewing machines. It sold for $6.75 (including cabinet-grade wooden cover).
Six years later, the Kenmore name disappeared from the Sears catalogs and didn’t reappear until 1934.
Who knows why Ward’s chose the name Kenmore for one of their most-modest kit homes. However, it’s now an intersting little footnote in the history of American merchandising history and kit homes.