What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Their Customers may depend on being as well supplied by them as they could be by any House in this Province.”
Atkins and Weston informed readers of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal that they carried a “great Variety of GOODS” imported from Glasgow as well as “GOODS from BRISTOL” and “two large Cargoes of Goods” from London. Their inventory included a “large Supply of SILKS,” a “great Assortment of LINENS of all Sorts,” a “great Variety of flowered, striped, and plain MUSLINS,” a “large Supply of the most fashionable RIBBONS and VELVET COLLARS,” and a “good Assortment of well-chosen BED FURNITURE.” Throughout their advertisement, Atkins and Weston underscored the array of choices that they made available to consumers.
To make sure that prospective customers did not overlook that fact, the merchants added a note that explained no other shop, store, or warehouse in the colony had a larger selection of merchandise than they did. “Their late Importations have been very large, and their Assortments general,” Atkins and Weston asserted, adding that “they buy their Goods on the best Terms, and design constantly to keep up a large Stock.” As a result, “their Customers may depend on being as well supplied by them as they could be by any House in this Province.” Colonizers might browse elsewhere, but they would not encounter more choices anywhere else.
Other advertisers made similar pronouncements. Hawkins, Petrie, and Company, for instance, declared that they “keep one of the largest assortments [of goods] in the province.” Even entrepreneurs located in towns beyond Charleston highlighted the choices they offered and made provisions for keeping local customers supplied with the wares they wanted and needed. John Tunno and Company in Jacksonburgh promoted a “complete assortment of GOODS” and listed a variety of items in their advertisement. They pledged that “Should they be out of any article, they will always send to town for it by the first boat, without any extra charge to their friend here.” Tunno and Company did not explicitly acknowledge that their inventory might not be as extensive as the shops in Charleston, though they presented a workaround in an effort to convince prospective customers that shopping with them would be just as fulfilling as if they were in the bustling urban port.
Advertisers regularly emphasized consumer choice in their newspaper advertisements during the era of the American Revolution. Many did so by publishing long lists of merchandise. Some, like Atkins and Westin, Hawkins, Petrie and Company, and Tunno and Company, added other appeals in their efforts to attract customers. They declared that their inventory rivaled others in the colony or promised that they could quickly acquire whatever merchandise their patrons requested.