Monday, November 1, 2010

1 November 1956 “Green Stamps, Where Did You Go?”

shgreenstamps2 Glancing through a magazine the other day, this double page ad caught my eye.shgreenstamps1I slightly recall talk of green stamps, but personally have had no real recognition of them. They were available well into the 1980’s so there is not reason I should not recall them. Perhaps I have simply forgot. Yet, here in 1956, I would be familiar with them. Their having been in circulation since the 1930’s and really having started as early as 1896.
greenstamps You would collect them up from your various retailers, grocery, gas station that sort of thing, and then place them in these booklets. There was then a place to redeem them for various items from small kitchen dishes to bikes and furniture.
It seems the original rewards were given to those who spent cash, as my advertisement says. I am not sure if this remained the incentive as the 60’s and 70’s came on or not.
S & H still exits HERE, but I don’t really understand the benefit. You may check it out and let me know, but the original use of stamps was promoting the use of cash for the small business, at least in the 1950’s. Obviously the company that owned and operated S & H made money, but it was sort of a fun system. I like the idea of collecting up the stamps and saving. It really helps to reinforce that aspect of savings that is almost completely gone in our digital/plastic money society.
If that promotion of spending cash could be brought back in some way for small business, what a boon it would be. There is much talk of ‘hurting small business’ today, but I can tell you, as a former owner of a small business, one of the most frustrating aspects was credit/debit. You have to pay a percentage of everything you sell to a customer when they use either of those cards. So, you sell something and you have to pay the company for the privilege of having their service. It is the bane and part of the destruction of the small business. Yet one rarely hears of it. We are simply told how ‘easy’ it is to use plastic. It is easy and easier to put money into already big pockets, but I digress.
The 1962 Pat Boone hit, “Speedy Gonzales” Mentions green stamps. If you listen to the song at the very end, when Speedy is talking, he mentions that they are ‘giving away green stamps with the purchase of Tequila’. Green stamps, it seems, was a part of the popular culture of the time.
greenstampcartoonIn some states, however, they were seen as gambling. In these states stores who wanted to give them away would need to file for specific licensing and it was pricey. Therefore, some states simply had few places that offered them and so they would not have been a part of that states popular culture and vernacular. I wonder if many who lived in such a state but on the border of another more permissive state crossed the border to fill their Green Stamp books?
I heard that here in Massachusetts we had a plaid stamp, but not sure about that. As I said, I have no recollection of them. I don’t recall my mother having them, though she was a young wife in the 1950’s, but alas I cannot ask her what with her Alzheimer's.
So, who remembers them? What do you recall about them? Do any of you use the modern online version? I am curious to know.
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