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Taken at the Troy Farm Museum, Troy, Pennsylvania.
S&H Green Stamps sign preserved on a grocery store building in California.
A repurposed S&H Green Stamps sign in 1973 (see 1973 oil crisis).Sperry & Hutchinson began offering stamps to U.S. retailers in 1896. The retail organizations that distributed the stamps (primarily supermarkets, gasoline filling stations, and shops) bought the stamps from S&H and gave them as bonuses to shoppers based on the dollar amount of a purchase. The stampsóissued in denominations of one, ten, and fifty pointsówere perforated with a gummed reverse, and as shoppers accumulated the stamps they moistened the reverse and mounted them in collectors books, which were provided free by S&H. The books contained 24 pages and to fill a page required 50 points, so each book contained 1200 points. Shoppers could then exchange filled books for premiums, including housewares and other items, from the local Green Stamps store or catalog. Each premium was assigned a value expressed by the number of filled stamp books required to obtain that item.
Green Stamps were one of the first retail loyalty programs, retailers purchased the stamps from the operating company and then gave them away at a rate determined by the merchant. Some shoppers would choose one merchant over another because they gave out more stamps per dollar spent.
The company also traded overseas. During the early 1960s, it initiated S&H Pink Stamps in the United Kingdom, having been beaten to their green shield trademark during 1958 by Richard Tompkins's Green Shield Trading Stamp Company.
The program had its greatest popularity during the mid 1960s, but a series of recessions during the 1970s decreased sales of green stamps and the stamp programs of their competitors. The value of the rewards declined substantially during the same period, requiring either far more stamps to get a worthwhile item or spending money for an item that was barely discounted from the price at regular stores, creating a general downward spiral as fewer and fewer people saw them as worth the trouble.
In 1972, the company was brought before the Supreme Court for violating the unfairness doctrine. In Federal Trade Commission v. Sperry & Hutchinson Trading Stamp Co., the court held that restricting the trade of the stamps was illegal.
Sperry and Hutchinson was sold by the founders' successors in 1981, and was purchased from a holding firm by a member of the founding Sperry family in 1999. At that time, only about 100 U.S. stores were offering Green Stamps. Eventually, with the rise of the Internet and the World Wide Web, the company modified its practices, and it now offers "greenpoints" as rewards for online purchases." Wikipedia
February 9th, 2013
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