What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“His customers may depend on having their ware packed in the best manner.”
Ebenezer Bridgham sold “Crockery Ware” and other goods at his “Staffordshire and Liverpool Ware House” on King Street in Boston in the early 1770s. In an advertisement in the October 2, 1772, edition of the New-Hampshire Gazette, he declared that he imported his merchandise “directly from the Pot-Houses in Staffordshire and Liverpool” rather than purchasing from English merchants. Fewer links in the supply chain meant fewer markups for his inventory. Bridgham passed along the savings to his customers, making bold claims about his prices. He trumpeted that he sold his wares “as low as they can be bought in London,” adding that he was “determined not to be UNDERSOLD by any person in America.”
Bridgham made that assertion in the midst of his attempts to create a regional market for the “Staffordshire and Liverpool Ware House.” In a sense, every newspaper advertiser engaged a regional market since newspapers circulated far beyond the cities where they were published, usually serving entire colonies before the American Revolution. Bridgham, however, intentionally placed advertisements in newspapers throughout New England. In addition to Portsmouth’s New-Hampshire Gazette, he also advertised in Salem’s Essex Gazette, the Providence Gazette, Hartford’s Connecticut Courant, and the New-London Gazette. Bridgham aimed to provide shopkeepers throughout the region with an assortment of merchandise for their own shops. He expected that his “resolution” not to be “UNDERSOLD by any person in America” resonated with “his former good customers” who he hoped would “continue to favour him with their custom.” In turn, invoking former customers signaled to new customers that Bridgham merited their orders since he already established and successfully served a clientele.
As evidence of his attention to the needs of his customers, he emphasized more than low prices for an incredible array of choiuces among the “full & complete assortment of Delph, Flint and Glass Ware” at the “Staffordshire and Liverpool Ware House.” In a nota bene, Bridgham announced that he “lately procur’d packers from England” so “his customers may depend on having their ware packed in the best manner.” They did not need to worry about receiving broken goods shipped to their towns throughout New England. Bridgham believed that this ancillary service aided his efforts to serve a regional market, one that extended beyond Boston and beyond Massachusetts.