What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“WE also return out sincere thanks to all our good customers.”
In the fall of 1771, Thomas Converse placed an advertisement in the Connecticut Courant to inform prospective customers that he stocked a “Neat Assortment of English and India GOODS” at his store in Hartford. In addition, he and a partner continued to make breeches at the same location, conveniently marked by the “sign of the Leather Breeches.” Converse and Stone had on hand “a number of breeches already made” as well as “leather of the neatest kind,” both options sure to suit the “gentlemen” of the town.
Converse and Stone devoted a significant portion of the advertisement to expressions of gratitude directed at both current and prospective customers. “WE also return our thanks,” the partners declared “to all our good customers for past favours, and doubt not but our continuance to do our work well … will insure their further favours.” In addition, Converse and Stone emphasized customer service, stating that they provided “courteous and kind treatment.” Eighteenth-century advertisers, especially artisans who produced the goods they sold, regularly acknowledged their customers in their advertisements. Doing so suggested to those who had not yet availed themselves of the goods and services being offered that an advertiser already had an established clientele. In the case of Converse and Stone, prospective customers may have felt more confident engaging their services if they believed that their “good customers” were also satisfied customers. This served as an invitation to join a community of consumers that the breeches makers already cultivated. Extending “sincere thanks” in print also contributed to the customer service that Converse and Stone purported to practice at the “sign of the Leather Breeches,” demonstrating to current and prospective customers that their attention to their patrons continued after they departed their store. Converse and Stone sought to be “the public’s humble servants” if customers would give them the opportunity.