Trading stamp
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Trading stamps are small paper stamps given to customers by merchants in
loyalty Loyalty, in general use, is a Fixation (psychology), devotion and faithfulness to a nation, cause, philosophy, country, group, or person. Philosophers disagree on what can be an object of loyalty, as some argue that loyalty is strictly interpers ...
programs that predate the modern
loyalty card A loyalty program is a marketing strategy Marketing strategy allows Organizational structure, organizations to focus limited resources on best opportunities to increase sales and achieve a competitive advantage in the market. Strategic marke ...
. Like the similarly-issued retailer coupons, these stamps only had a minimal cash value of a few mils (thousandths of a dollar) individually, but when a customer accumulated a number of them, they could be exchanged with the trading stamp company (usually a third-party issuer of the stamps) for premiums, such as toys, personal items, housewares, furniture and appliances.


History


Origin

The practice of retailers issuing trading stamps started in 1891 at Schuster's Department Store,
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. At first, the stamps were given only to customers who paid for purchases in
cash In economics, cash is money in the physical form of currency, such as banknotes and coins. In bookkeeping and financial accounting, cash is current assets comprising currency or currency equivalents that can be accessed immediately or near-immed ...
as a reward for not making purchases on
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. Other retailers soon copied the practice of giving trading stamps that could be redeemed at the issuer's store. One example was L. H. Parke Company a Philadelphia and Pittsburgh manufacturer and distributor of food products that included coffee, tea and spices along with canned goods. They established a trading stamp program in 1895 under the name Parke's Blue Point Trading Stamps for customers who purchased Parke's products in grocery stores in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The program was successful. Parke established showrooms in their headquarters buildings in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh where customers could inspect and obtain premium goods.


Independent trading stamp companies

In 1896 the Sperry and Hutchinson Company was created as an independent trading stamp company in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
. By 1957 there were approximately 200 trading stamp companies in operation. Typically, merchants would pay a third-party trading stamp company for the stamps, and would then advertise that they give trading stamps with purchases. Large retailers were usually given a discount on the stamps while smaller retailers generally had to pay the full cost of adopting the trading stamp program. The intent was to get customers to be loyal to the merchant, so that they would continue shopping there to obtain enough stamps to redeem for merchandise. Customers would fill books with stamps, and take the books to a trading stamp company redemption center to exchange them for premiums. Books could also be sent to the trading stamp company in exchange for premium merchandise via
mail order Mail order is the buying of goods or services by mail delivery. The buyer places an order for the desired products with the merchant through some remote methods such as: * Sending an order form in the mail * Placing a telephone call * Placi ...
catalogs. An example of the value of trading stamps would be during the 1970s and 1980s where the typical rate issued by a merchant was one stamp for each 10¢ of merchandise purchased. A typical book took approximately 1200 stamps to fill, or the equivalent of US $120.00 in purchases. While one of the most popular brand of trading stamps in the US were
S&H Green Stamps S&H Green Stamps was a line of trading stamps popular in the United States from 1896 until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry & Hutchinson company (S&H), founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and ...
, informally known as "green stamps", other large brands included Top Value Stamps, Gold Bond Stamps, Plaid Stamps, Blue Chip Stamps, Quality Stamps, Buccaneer Stamps and Gold Strike Stamps. Texas Gold Stamps were given in Texas mainly by the
H-E-B H-E-B Grocery Company, LP, is an American privately held A privately held company (or simply a private company) is a company whose shares and related rights or obligations are not offered for public subscription or publicly negotiated in the ...
grocery store chain, and Mahalo stamps in Hawaii.


Growth and decline

The use of trading stamps grew with the spread of chain gasoline stations in the early 1910s and the then-new industry of chain
supermarket A supermarket is a self-service Retail#Types of outlets, shop offering a wide variety of food, Drink, beverages and Household goods, household products, organized into sections. This kind of store is larger and has a wider selection than earli ...
s in the 1920s. Merchants found it more profitable to award them to all customers rather than cash only customers. Legal challenges regarding the use of trading stamps were raised in various jurisdictions around the US but were often struck down. Some merchant groups disliked trading stamps and actively worked to have them banned in their areas. Following WWII the use of trading stamps expanded when supermarkets began issuing them. By 1957 it was estimated that nearly 250,000 retail outlets were issuing trading stamps, with nearly two thirds of US households saving trading stamps. During this time trading stamp companies had between 1,400 - 1,600 retail centers where consumers could redeem their stamps for
consumer goods A final good or consumer good is a final product In Production (economics), production, a final product, or finished product is a product (business), product that is ready for sale.Wouters, Mark; Selto, Frank H.; Hilton, Ronald W.; Maher, Mich ...
. In the early 1960s, the S&H Green Stamps company boasted that it printed more stamps annually than the number of
postage stamp A postage stamp is a small piece of paper issued by a post office, postal administration, or other authorized vendors to customers who pay postage (the cost involved in moving, insuring, or registering mail), who then affix the stamp to the fa ...
s printed by the US government. In 1968 it was reported that more than $900 million in stamps were sold in the United States. Beginning in the early 1970s the use of trading stamps began to decline. Gasoline service stations stopped offering them due to the
energy crisis An energy crisis or energy shortage is any significant Bottleneck (production), bottleneck in the supply of energy resources to an economy. In literature, it often refers to one of the energy sources used at a certain time and place, in particu ...
that occurred and many supermarkets started spending more money to advertise lower prices rather than issue stamps. During the 1980s there was a brief resurgence in the popularity of trading stamps, but overall their use continued to decline. Their role has been replaced by
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s, rewards programs offered by
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companies and other
loyalty program A loyalty program is a marketing strategy designed to encourage customers to continue to shop at or use the services of a business associated with the program. Today, such programs cover most types of commerce, each having varying features and ...
s such as grocery "Preferred Customer" cards. Through the 1990s and early 2000s the majority of the remaining trading stamp companies either ceased operations or converted to an online format. In 2008 the last operating trading stamp company in the United States, Eagle Stamps, closed.


International trading stamps


Canada

The use of trading stamps began in Canada circa 1900 but their use was banned by the Canadian government in 1905. In 1959 the grocery chain
Loblaws Loblaws Inc. is a Canadian supermarket chain with stores located in the provinces of Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba, Ontario, Quebec and Saskatchewan. Headquartered in Brampton, Ontario, Loblaws is a subsidiary of Loblaw Companies, Loblaw Co ...
introduced their Lucky Green Stamps program and a trading stamp program was started by an IGA grocery store in Winnipeg. Although faced with legal challenges the use of trading stamps in these instances was upheld as legal since they did not meet the definition of trading stamps in the Canadian Criminal Code. The
Criminal Code A criminal code (or penal code) is a document that compiles all, or a significant amount of a particular jurisdiction's criminal law Criminal law is the body of law that relates to crime. It prescribes conduct perceived as threatening, ha ...
provisions against trading stamps were deleted, among other obsolete provisions, b
Bill C-51
in 2018 during the
42nd Canadian Parliament The 42nd Canadian Parliament was in session from December 3, 2015, to September 11, 2019, with the membership of its lower chamber, the House of Commons of Canada The House of Commons of Canada (french: Chambre des communes du Canada) is the ...


United Kingdom

By the 1960s the use of trading stamps had spread to the United Kingdom. Entrepreneur Richard Tompkins established Green Shield Stamps in the
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain, is a country in Europe, off the north-western coast of the European mainland, continental mainland. It comprises England, Scotlan ...
. Although based along a similar model, the Green Shield Stamps were independent of S&H Green Stamps but carried a similar trademark. Tompkins' company began selling stamps to
filling station A filling station, also known as a gas station () or petrol station (), is a facility that sells fuel and engine lubricants for motor vehicles. The most common fuels sold in the 2010s were gasoline (or petrol) and diesel fuel. Gasoline ...
s, small retailers and had signed up the
Tesco Tesco plc () is a British Multinational corporation, multinational groceries and general merchandise retailer headquartered in Welwyn Garden City, England. In 2011 it was the third-largest retailer in the world measured by gross revenues an ...
supermarket chain to the Green Shield Stamp franchise in 1963. The S&H Company began offering their stamps in the United Kingdom as well but with the color changed to pink. 1965, the
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was offering trading stamps as a new means of allocating patronage
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s to its consumer members.


Hong Kong


See also

* Big Bear Stores - chain of supermarkets with their own trading stamp program called "Buckeye Stamps". * Blue Chip Stamps - US company that produced trading stamps. *
Carlson Companies Carlson is an American privately held company headquartered in Minnetonka, Minnesota, United States. Its primary subsidiaries are CWT (company), CWT, a travel management company, and Carlson Private Capital Partners, a family office that manages t ...
- originally Gold Bond Stamp Company, issuer of Gold Bond Trading Stamps. * Green Shield Stamps - first trading stamps issued in UK. *
S&H Green Stamps S&H Green Stamps was a line of trading stamps popular in the United States from 1896 until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry & Hutchinson company (S&H), founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and ...
- US company that produced trading stamps. * Thomas Sperry - co-founder of S&H Green Stamps. *
Two Guys Two Guys from Harrison (later shortened to Two Guys) is a former discount store chain founded in 1946 by brothers Herbert and Sidney Hubschman in Harrison, New Jersey, originally selling major appliances such as televisions. The chain acquired ...
- a chain of stores that issued its own trading stamps program. * Federal Trade Commission v. Sperry & Hutchinson Trading Stamp Co. *
Canadian Tire money Canadian Tire money, officially Canadian Tire 'money' or CTM, is a loyalty program operated by the Canada, Canadian retail chain Canadian Tire Corporation (CTC). It consists of both paper coupons introduced in 1958 and used in Canadian Tire store ...
- a similar system at
Canadian Tire Canadian Tire Corporation, Limited is a Canadian retail company which operates in the automotive, hardware, sports, leisure and housewares sectors. Its Canadian operations include: Canadian Tire (including Canadian Tire Petroleum gas stations a ...
stores in Canada, using
scrip A scrip (or ''wikt:chit#Etymology 3, chit'' in India) is any substitute for legal tender. It is often a form of credit (finance), credit. Scrips have been created and used for a variety of reasons, including exploitive payment of employees under ...
instead of stamps.


References and sources

;References ;Sources * * {{Customer loyalty programs Customer loyalty programs Cinderella stamps