What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“He now keeps the TAVERN at Newbury Ferry.”
Thomas Wood, “Innholder in Salisbury,” offered some helpful advice to travelers in New Hampshire when he announced that he “now keeps the TAVERN at Newbury Ferry.” Not surprisingly, that advice also served to increase the number of patrons, especially overnight guests, at the tavern. Travelers heading east faced a choice when they arrived in his area at the end of the day. Continuing their journey required passage via ferry. Realizing that some might be tempted to call it a day, especially if they had traveled any distance or experienced any difficulties, and wait until the next morning to embark on the ferry, Wood recommended that it actually would be more efficient to make the crossing as the final leg of the journey for the day and then have the liberty to move along at their own convenience at a time that suited the following morning, perhaps saving the trouble of waking the ferry operators. Not only would this arrangement save time, travelers would also benefit from the accommodations that Wood offered at a tavern “repaired in a handsome manner, for the reception of all Gentlemen, Ladies, and others, who travel that way.” Wood assured potential guests they could “depend upon the best of Usage, both for themselves and their Horses.”
Wood made a nod toward what this “best of Usage” entailed in making his recommendation that “it would greatly forward their Journey to cross the Ferry and put up at his House, which would save the trouble of disturbing the Ferrymen so early in the Morning.” Even before interacting with patrons in person, he stepped into the role of concierge to facilitate their travels and create the best possible experience. Many eighteenth-century advertisements indicate that shopkeepers, artisans, and others who provided goods and services practiced what is now commonly known as customer service, though many did not go into detail beyond phrases indicating customers received “the best of Usage.” In his advertisement, Wood included an example to entice potential guests and demonstrate that he did indeed have their best interests at heart, even as he stood to increase his own business at the same time.