What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“She expects a large and neat Assortment of Millinary from London soon.”
Jane Thomson, “SOLE-DEALER AND SEPARATE TRADER,” ran her own business in Charleston in the 1770s. The milliner took to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to inform current and prospective clients that she “has removed from Tradd-Street to Old Church-Street, next Door to Mr. Sarazin, Silversmith,” and invited them to visit her at her new location. She wished to maintain her clientele, expressing “grateful Thanks to her Friends and Customers for their past Favours” and stating that she “will be much obliged to her former Customers for the Continuance of their Commands.” The milliner also hoped to expand her share of the market, promising “steady Attention” to all orders that would “give Satisfaction to all who are pleased to employ her.”
In addition to exemplary customer service, Thomson emphasized the hats as well as fabrics, ribbons, laces, other adornments, and supplies she stocked for making hats. She declared that she “has a neat Assortment of Goods suitable for her Business.” To further entice current and prospective clients, the milliner did not rely on her current inventory alone. Rather than settle for leftovers that she moved from one shop to another, her customers would soon have access to a “large and neat Assortment of Millinary from London.” Thomson expected a delivery that would replenish her supplies and keep her current with the latest fashions in the most cosmopolitan city in the empire. On occasion, merchants, shopkeepers, tailors, milliners, and other advertisers previewed new merchandise as a means of generating excitement among prospective customers. They leveraged anticipation to market goods not yet available, encouraging consumers to watch for subsequent advertisements or visit their shops frequently to find out what kinds of new goods recently arrived. On another occasion, Thomson promoted “A fresh Supply of MILLINARY GOODS” that she imported from London, naming the ship and captain that delivered them to demonstrate that she did indeed carry goods recently arrived in the colony. Like many other advertisers, she recognized that consumers placed a premium on the newest arrivals … and might even find promises of imminent arrivals even more alluring.