Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Power of Green Stamps

I took this picture in the parking lot of an old private airport (of all places) just outside of Tallahassee. The sign seems to always catch my eye whenever I drive past--which is not often. It brings on waves of nostalgia. You see, I am a licker, and before you give that too much thought let me explain that this tongue has licked a lot of stamps. I can still taste the almost minty gum that had to be moistened in order to stick the stamps into the books. Today, I would most definitely use a damp sponge;  those were different times. And who knows, all that glue may explain a few things about me.

The books came from the stores that gave out the stamps as an incentive to shop at their establishments. The customer received stamps based on the dollar amount spent.

Now, there were three different kinds of stamps in my small town: green, yellow and plaid all competing for your business. Yellow came from Quik Chek, which eventually became Winn Dixie. Plaid stamps came from the A & P grocery, which incidentally had the best toys at Christmas. But the green stamps came from Publix, as well as our Standard Oil gas station, which at that time was selling gas--none of this unleaded stuff---for $0.30 a gallon.

The green stamps were considered the best value. Once licked and stuck into the books, they could be redeemed at the Green Stamp Store.

Our closest was in the next town, perhaps 15 miles from our house. There was a color catalog printed each year to help with choices. Mama let me lick and stick and then, usually, I was allowed to choose what we would spend them on. There was an array of choices: glassware to card tables, any kind of linen to framed pictures for your wall, Bibles to fans, cameras to trashcans, radios to pots and pans, irons to garden hoses.  It went on and on until you reached a new car. Yes, each year, there was actually a new car in the back of the catalog that for a bajillion books, you could actually order.

According to Wikipedia, Sperry and Hutchinson began their green stamp program in 1896. (Just want you to know, I was not on the planet quite yet!)  "During the 1960s, (OK that is my era) the rewards catalog printed by the company was the largest publication in the United States and the company issued three times as many stamps as the U. S. Postal Service." By 1999, there were fewer than 100 stores issuing Green Stamps and now the plan has been modified to offer "green points" for online purchases.

I still own things that came from the stamp store!

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