What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“One for their TOWN and one for their STONO STORE.”
Atkins and Weston placed an advertisement in the November 3, 1767, edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to “Inform their friends and customers, that by the ship Nancy, Captain Jordan, from London” they had just imported a variety of new merchandise. The shipping news, fortuitously printed immediately to the left of the advertisement, confirmed that Jordan and the Nancy had entered the port two weeks earlier on October 20. Atkins and Watson had been expecting this shipment for quite some time. They previously attempted to drum up demand for their new inventory even before it arrived; in September they published an advertisement designed to incite anticipation among their “friends and customers” and other readers of the newspaper throughout the colony.
In both advertisements Atkins and Weston underscored that they operated stores at two locations, one in Charleston and the other in Stono, a smaller settlement to the southwest across the Ashley River. Potential customers who lived in the vicinity of Stono did not have to travel to the colony’s major port to make their purchases at Atkins and Weston’s main store. Instead, they could shop at the local branch. The advertisers made clear that customers at both locations would choose from among the same selection and experience the same treatment. They announced that the recent shipment on the Nancy included “TWO very LARGE and COMPLEAT ASSORTMENTS of GOODS” that “consist of almost every article usually imported.” They were so certain of this that they did not publish a detailed list but instead argued it was “needless to descend to particulars.” They did not privilege customers in Charleston, pledging “to keep both their stores well supplied.” In addition, they assured prospective customers in both locations that they “may place a fixed confidence in their selling on as reasonable terms as any people in the province.”
Atkins and Weston offered options to consumers who did not reside in the colony’s major port, one of the largest and most cosmopolitan urban centers in the colonies in the late 1760s. Colonists who lived in Charleston’s hinterland could have the same shopping experiences at a local outlet in Stono as if they made the journey into the city because Atkins and Weston stocked both stores with the same goods. The merchandise at their second location was neither secondhand nor second best.