September 6

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Sep 6 - 9:6:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Page 3
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 6, 1768).

“ANDREW LORD, Has just imported …”

In September 1768 Andrew Lord experimented with a marketing strategy deployed by relatively few merchants and shopkeepers prior to the American Revolution. He placed multiple advertisements in a single issue of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, improving the likelihood that readers would notice at least one of them. For readers and prospective customers who happened to notice both, this further increased Lord’s visibility in the Charleston marketplace, making it difficult to overlook his significance in the local commercial landscape. Publishing multiple advertisements enhanced his name recognition.

Printers frequently crowded newspapers with advertisements for their own goods and services, exercising one of the privileges of operating the press, but merchants, shopkeepers, artisans, and others were slow to follow their lead. Financial considerations certainly played a role. Advertisers not affiliated with the newspaper did, after all, have to pay to have their notices inserted, but that alone does not sufficiently explain their failure to appreciate how to better take advantage of the power of the press in presenting their goods and services to prospective customers. After all, many advertisers made significant investments when they inserted lengthy notices that listed vast arrays of merchandise.

Sep 6 - 9:6:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal Page 4
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (September 6, 1768).

Lord could have done the same. He could have combined his two advertisements into a single advertisement. Doing so would have had the advantage of making his assortment of merchandise seem even more expansive by taking up more space on a single page. Yet he opted for two distinct advertisements instead. Since most printers charged by the length, Lord incurred the same costs whether he published one longer advertisement or two shorter ones. Given the choice, he determined that two shorter notices better suited his purposes. One appeared on the third page of the September 6 edition of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal, the other on the fourth page. This bolstered his presence in the newspaper, further solidifying his reputation as a merchant of note in the bustling port of Charleston. The appeals Lord made in his advertisements did not distinguish him from his competitors, but the reiteration of his name in a single issue did.

April 26

What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?

Apr 26 - 4:26:1768 South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal
South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal (April 26, 1768).

“He entreats a Continuation of Messrs. DAVID and JOHN DEAS’s Customers.”

Andrew Lord launched a new enterprise in the spring of 1768, at least an enterprise that was new to him. He took to the pages of the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journalto announce that he had “bought out Messrs. DAVID and JOHN DEAS, and taken the Stores and house lately occupied by them.”  He planned to sell all of the merchandise already on hand, pledging to part with it “very low.”  Prospective customers enjoyed bargain prices as the new proprietor attempted to clear out the existing inventory.

In addition to inviting new patrons to his store, Lord hoped to invoke loyalty among customers who already shopped there when it still belonged to the previous owners:  “He entreats a Continuation of Messrs. DAVID and JOHN DEAS’s Customers.”  This was not loyalty to the purveyors of goods but rather loyalty to the goods themselves.  Lord implied that since the Deas’s former customers appreciated the wares they had previously purchased that they would continue to be satisfied as they selected among the inventory he had obtained.  He much more explicitly, however, invited the Deas’s customers to give him a chance to demonstrate that he could serve them just as well as the former proprietors had done.  He stressed that “he expects a compleat Assortment of GOODS by the first Vessels from London and Bristol,” an assortment that he believed maintained the standards that customers had come to anticipate when making purchases in the store he now operated.

The existing clientele may have factored into Lord’s decision to acquire a shop and inventory owned by two of Charleston’s most prominent merchants and slave traders.  According to his advertisement, he certainly hoped that familiarity with the location and merchandise would convince previous patrons to continue making purchases at the same store, especially since he offered low prices and an extensive selection.  The proprietor had changed, but other aspects of the business remained the same.  Accordingly, there was no need to seek out other vendors, at least not without first giving Lord the opportunity to demonstrate that customers would not experience any disruption in the experience they had come to expect when shopping at that store.