From a photograph by Solomon D. Butcher of four daughters of rancher Joseph M. Chrisman, at their sod house in Custer County, Nebraska. From left to right, Harriet, Elizabeth, Lucie, and Ruth. Photographed in 1886.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Green Stamps at the Grocery Store

The era of trading stamps has passed.



Image by Wandering Magpie
When I was a child, grocery stores gave trading stamps with every receipt. I particularly remember S&H Green Stamps and Gold Bond stamps in our area, but some other brands of stamps were given by stores in different towns.

The number of stamps a customer received depended on the amount of money he had spent in the store. Stamp books were provided, and full books of stamps could be traded for merchandise in a catalog.

My mother always thought that pasting the stamps into the books was a good job for my sister and me. When she came home from the store, she threw the stamps into a box. When she thought she had a bookful or two, Charlotte and I got a bowl of water and a sponge. We used a lot of water, so the books and the table were pretty wet when we got done. Also, the books usually had some their pages stuck together when they dried out.

Maybe the catalog had one or two little items that could be purchased with a single book of stamps, but most items required multiple books of stamps.

I knew a family that saved enough trading stamps (around 200 books, I think) to buy a dishwasher. It took them years! My mother once had enough trading stamps to get an electric sewing machine. That was when my dad got Green Stamps with some seed corn he bought.

Wikipedia says that S&H Green Stamps is still in business, but I haven't seen trading stamps for years.

In our area, the closest thing to the trading stamp idea is the "Kroger card" which is sort of a combination ID and reverse credit card. When you buy groceries at Kroger, they scan your card and it entitles you to special prices on some items and (when enough dollars have been spent) a 10-cent-per-gallon discount for a fill-up at Kroger's gas pumps.

I am most familiar with Kroger's cards, but some of the other grocery stores, book stores, etc. also have discount cards.

Related:
The Trading Stamp Story
Does Anyone Remember S&H Green Stamps?
Andy Warhol S&H Green Stamps at Museum of Modern Art
Andy Warhol S&H Green Stamps lithograph
New York Times column by David Leonhardt relates frequent-flyer miles to Green Stamps

Image by Hugo90


6 comments:

Collagemama said...

Pasting Blue (Miller and Paine) stamps, S&H Green stamps, and Gold stamps was a fun thing to do when we were snowed in. My mom got our "new" web-woven folding lawn chairs with S&H Green stamps.

Genevieve said...

Collagemama, I was just reading on a website that trading stamps are perfect for collages. :) This person was selling pages from a full S&H Green Stamp book (one of the later styles of stamps) for $1.00 per page.

JDP said...

Glad to see I am not the only one with fond memories of S&H green stamps.

JDP (dudleys Diary)

Genevieve said...

Thanks for stopping by, JDP.

ptg said...

When I cleaned out my mother's car after she died I found a huge stash of filled Green Stamp books under the seats. I still have 'em somewhere. Do you suppose these old ones have accumulated dividends?

Genevieve said...

PT, I think the only dividends you're likely to get are these...

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