September 5

What was advertised in a colonial newspaper 250 years ago today?

Sep 5 - 9:5:1766 New-London Gazette
New-London Gazette (September 5, 1766).

They have a Quantity of Goods remaining on Hand which they’ll Sell cheap.”

Trumbull, Fitch, and Trumbull ended their partnership on June 20, 1766. More than two months later they continued to advertise that their common enterprise had been terminated as they encouraged “All Persons having Accounts open with said Company” to settle them with Joseph Trumbull, one of the partners, “as soon as possible.”

Apparently the former partnership still had inventory remaining to be sold. Trumbull, Fitch, and Trumbull were certainly interested in receiving what they were owed by former customers, but their advertisement also indicated that any reader and potential customer could visit the store they had operated in Norwich and purchase the remaining merchandise. To make this an even more attractive prospect, they noted that “they have a Quantity of Goods remaining on Hand which they’ll Sell cheap for Cash or short Credit.”

The advertisement did not indicate how the current prices compared to what they had been during the partnership, but readers could assume that Trumbull, Fitch, and Trumbull were motivated to sell as they went their separate ways. In effect, the former partners operated an eighteenth-century precursor to a “going out of business” sale, though their advertising was not nearly as bold or flashy as modern promotions of similar events.

Still, this reminds us that some of the most basic marketing techniques were not invented in the twentieth century. Instead, over the last century or so marketers have further developed incipient strategies already deployed in the colonial America. A twenty-first-century version of today’s featured advertisement would likely focus exclusively on offering low prices in order to liquidate inventory (and leave the settling of accounts to be pursued via other means), refining the method used by Trumbull, Fitch, and Trumbull a quarter millennium ago.

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