What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago this week?
“His house is extremely well calculated for the accommodation of GRAND and SHERIFF’S JURIES.”
Josiah F. Davenport operated an inn and tavern, the Bunch of Grapes, in Philadelphia in the late 1760s and early 1770s. He occasionally placed newspaper advertisements, both in that in city and in New York to attract the attention of travelers who planned to visit for business or pleasure. When he commenced operations, Davenport focused on the amenities in his marketing efforts. He promoted the quality of the neighborhood, the food and drink served at the inn, the convenient stables, and the customer service extended to all guests. His advertisements often included a woodcut depicting a bunch of grapes, a logo that supplemented his branding efforts.
In an advertisement in the November 1, 1770, edition of the Pennsylvania Journal, Davenport deployed another marketing strategy. Rather than entice individual visitors, he invited groups to make use of his facilities. The innkeeper proclaimed that “his house is extremely well calculated for the accommodation of GRAND and SHERIFF’S JURIES.” Davenport suggested that he had already established a foothold in that market, asserting that such juries had “honoured him with their commands for two years past.” Based on when his advertisements indicate he began operations, Davenport had been serving those patrons almost from the start even if he did not incorporate that part of his business model into his advertisements until the fall of 1770.
For all of his customers, the innkeeper pledged “his constant and unwearied attention to give them satisfaction” and promised that he “furnish[ed] himself with everything necessary for that purpose.” He hoped that such hospitality would attract the attention of colonists planning meetings, realizing that providing accommodations for groups generated greater revenues than working solely with individual patrons. Davenport likely figured that guests who stayed there on business would choose his house of entertainment over competitors on other occasions. That juries would select the Bunch of Grapes also enhanced the establishment’s reputation. Before the hospitality industry became the distinct segment of the economy that it is today, Davenport identified the benefits of promoting his inn and tavern as an attractive location for meetings and events.