The following was printed in the jewelry section of the 1897 Sears & Roebuck Catalog. Talk about advertising propaganda!


We Beg of You to Read it All, It Will Open Your Eyes

A few years ago such a things as sending away for goods was almost unknown, but now the custom is becoming so popular that it bids fair to soon be the medium for purchasing the larger portion of goods the consumer uses… Retail dealers, however, undertake to convince their customers that all advertising houses will swindle them. We shall take the position of fighting them with their own weapons. We will…undertake to give you the points and you can draw yours own conclusions.

     The retailer’s hobby is to make himself socially as popular as possible, and if his town supports any secret or other societies he endeavors to make himself an influential member, using at all times the social garb to attract and bring him trade…Step into his store at any time and you will find him gossiping with a neighbor merchant, reading the newspaper or both as he and his clerks are cleaning up and polishing some of the old shop-worn goods that have been in the house for years, trying to make them look like new. 

     His store, in order that he may be successful, must be located on the best part of the best street in the town where the rent is very high; his fuel and lighting expenses are very large, besides clerk hire, care of the store, interest on the investment, profits, his own living (and he usually lives very well), all of which must be included. Take into consideration all these expenses, then consider the small number of sales he makes during the year, and you can understand how he must have from 33 1/3 to 100 per cent gross profit on every article he sells. If it is not fraud to sell goods for twice what they are worth, it is certainly the next thing to it.

I thought this interesting, how the Sears corporation took the time to paint the everyday activities of their competition as something devious. Also, isn’t it fascinating how the local retailers had to compete with the newcomer…mail order goods? Reminds me of the concerns we now have about online retailers.

How about you? Do you see any similarities? Whose side do you tend to take – the local retailer or the less expensive wholesaler?

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