What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“As compleat an Assortment as is to be met with at any Store in NORWICH.”
As October became November in 1771, John-McClarren Breed continued to advertise an assortment of goods available at his store in Norwich, Connecticut. His lengthy advertisement extended more than half a column in the New-London Gazette, cataloging an array of textiles, housewares, hardware, books, and other items in his inventory. Prospective customers could see at a glance that Breed offered many choices to suit their tastes.
Breed was not the only merchant in Norwich who advertised in the New-London Gazette in the fall of 1771. John B. Brimmer inserted his own notice in the November 8 edition, fortunate enough to have it appear as the first item on the first page. A few months earlier, Brimmer ran advertisements that rivaled Breed’s in length and the number of goods enumerated, but that was no longer the case in his newest advertisement. Instead, he “Informs his Customers, That he has just received from LONDON, A further Supply of Fall Goods” and asked readers to take into account his previous notices. “[W]ith the other GOODS he has lately advertised,” Brimmer asserted, the new items from the latest shipment “make up perhaps, as compleat an Assortment as is to be met with at any Store in NORWICH.”
Even if readers did not recall the advertisements that Brimmer placed during the summer months, he attempted to distract prospective customers from assuming that Breed had a larger inventory just because his advertisement occupied so much space on the page. Indeed, in the November 8 edition Breed’s advertisement began in one column and overflowed into another, giving the impression that it contained even more than it did. Even though Brimmer was no stranger when it came to placing such elaborate advertisements, he opted for a less-is-more approach in drawing attention to his “further Supply of Fall Goods,” perhaps depending on his reputation for providing “as compleat an Assortment” to do the rest.