What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“A proper supply of GOODS will be sent to their stores at DORCHESTER and MONCK’S CORNER.”
For six weeks in the fall of 1768 the partnership of Dawson and Walter placed an advertisement in the South-Carolina Gazette and Country Journal to promote the “large and compleat assortment of GOODS, for the present and winter season” that they had imported from London. In addition to seasonal goods, their inventory included items that testified to the refinement of provincial consumers, especially when it came to apparel and housewares. From among the assortment of goods on hand, Dawson and Walter specifically enumerated “FASHIONABLE BROAD CLOTHS, and trimmings, compleat sets of enameled, and blue and white table china, [and] complete sets of tea ditto.”
Like many other colonial merchants and shopkeepers, Dawson and Walter did not address residents of Charleston exclusively. They also wished to cultivate customers among colonists who lived in the hinterlands surrounding the colony’s major port city. Some of their counterparts advertised that they accepted orders delivered by post or messenger and faithfully filled them, but Dawson and Walter instead opened additional shops in smaller towns to serve colonists outside of Charleston. They informed readers that “A proper supply of GOODS will be sent to their stores at DORCHESTER and MONCK’S CORNER, where their friends may now depend on finding a good assortment kept up.” Furthermore, the partners pledged that customers in the countryside would be “served as cheap as in Charles-Town.” In other words, convenience did not come at the expense of limited selections or higher prices. Those who shopped in Dorchester and Monck’s Corner could depend on choosing from among the same merchandise presented to customers in the bustling port. Despite their distance from Charleston – and their even greater distance from London, the cosmopolitan center of the empire – customers in the hinterlands could demonstrate their refinement by purchasing the same goods as consumers in the cities. Demand alone does not explain the extensive reach of the consumer revolution during the eighteenth century. Instead, entrepreneurs like Dawson and Walter who established shops beyond major cities and towns facilitated the distribution of consumer goods throughout the American colonies.