What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Country Traders … will, perhaps, never again have an Opportunity of purchasing so cheap.”
For nearly two years, Ebenezer Bridgham pursued a regional advertising campaign for his “Staffordshire & Liverpool Warehouse, In King-Street, BOSTON.” In addition to placing notices in newspapers published in Boston, he also advertised in the Essex Gazette (published in Salem), the Providence Gazette, the New-Hampshire Gazette (published in Portsmouth), the Connecticut Courant (published in Hartford), and the New-London Gazette. He initially ran the same notice in several newspapers, but later his efforts became more sporadic. An advertisement often appeared in newspapers in one or two towns, but not in all locations that Bridgham attempted to cultivate a clientele among consumers and, especially, retailers. Overall, he was one of the few advertisers who attempted to serve a regional market by placing notices in newspapers in several towns in the early 1770s.
As fall approached in 1773, he once again advertised in the New-Hampshire Gazette, alerting prospective customers to the “very large and full ASSORTMENT of CROCKERY WARE” available at his warehouse. He stocked “almost every Kind of CHINA, GLASS, DELPH, … and many other Kinds of FLINT WARE” in various colors. To entice customers, he proclaimed that he set prices “little more than the Sterling Cost.” In other words, when they made purchases at the Staffordshire and Liverpool Warehouse they did not pay a significant markup for imported goods. Consumers regularly encountered claims about low prices, so Bridgham demonstrated his motivation to offer bargains. He announced that he was “Intending soon for GREAT-BRITAIN” and wished to settle accounts before his departure. That also meant reducing his inventory as much as possible, prompting him to offer good deals to his customers.
Bridgham concluded with a note to “Country Traders” in New Hampshire, informing them that they “would find a very great Advantage in immediately supplying themselves from said Store.” The merchant asserted that retailers “will, perhaps, never again have an Opportunity of purchasing so cheap.” With such bargains, they could increase their own sales and generate more revenue as they passed along the savings to their own customers. Bridgham combined appeals to price and consumer choice in his advertisement in hopes of convincing shopkeepers and others to acquire “CROCKERY WARE” and other items from him rather than other merchants.