What was advertised in a colonial American newspaper 250 years ago today?
“Any person inclinable to purchase the Whole, may have them on very reasonable Terms.”
John Tunno sold a variety of goods at his “Linen and Manchester Ware-House” on Broad Street in Charleston. In an advertisement in the July 11, 1770, edition of the South-Carolina and American General Gazette, he advertised a “large and compleat Assortment of Linen-Drapery, Hosiery, Stuffs, and other Goods.” Those items included “printed Linens and Cottons,” a Quantity of Check Handkerchiefs,” “beautiful Silk Stripes for Mens Waistcoats,” and “neat trimmed Womens Hats and Bonnets.” He also stocked “sundry Articles that cannot, by reason of the Resolutions,” the nonimportation agreement adopted by merchants and others in South Carolina, “be now imported.” Tunno emphasized consumer choice in his advertisement, repeatedly using words and phrases like “assortment,” “variety,” and “of all sorts” as well as listed numerous items for prospective customers’ consideration. That he carried items that respectable merchants no longer imported further enhanced the array of choices.
In addition to promoting a wide selection of merchandise, Tunno offered bargains to those who bought in volume. Bulk discounts framed his advertisement, appearing at both the beginning and conclusion. In that regard, he addressed retailers rather than consumers. Immediately before enumerating his wares, he stated that he adjusted prices “Lower to any Person buying a Quantity.” He inserted a nota bene at the end, instructing prospective customers to take note that “Any person inclinable to purchase the Whole, may have them on very reasonable Terms.” Tunno aimed to part with his entire inventory in a single transaction. For shopkeepers, this was a turnkey opportunity for acquiring inventory.
Tunno deployed two of the most common marketing strategies in eighteenth-century newspaper advertisements. He took a standard approach to consumer choice, proclaiming that he offered a variety of goods, demonstrating that was the case with a lengthy list, and promising even more. He modified the usual approach taken to price; rather than stating that he charged low prices Tunno instead presented conditions for getting a bargain, giving buyers a greater sense of agency in shaping the terms of their transactions. Tunno offered an opportunity for even better bargains, but only if customers chose to buy “a Quantity” or “the Whole.” In both cases, inciting consumer imagination through invoking choices or prompting buyers to purchase in volume, Tunno resorted to strategies that encouraged readers to actively engage with his advertisement.