May 13

What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago this week?

May 13 - 5:12:1766 Newport Mercury
Newport Mercury (May 12, 1766).

It appears that James Morton’s primary purpose in placing this advertisement was to inform customers who had purchased goods on credit that they needed to visit his shop to make payment because he was preparing to leave town. The nota bene, however, tells an additional story of marketing innovation and maximizing the returns on what he spent to insert this announcement in the local newspaper.

Since he had purchased space in the newspaper to encourage customers in “settling their Accounts,” he diversified his message by using a small portion of it to “sell what few Goods he has on Hand,” but for cash rather than credit. This more or less amounted to an eighteenth-century “going out of business” sale. Morton looked to get rid of his remaining stock, figuring that some return on his investment was better than none. To draw customers to his sale he promised that they could purchase the remaining goods “at prime Cost.” In other words, they would get a deal.

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