To the Buyer in a Small Town

Written by Dick Perue

In January 1907, a Wyoming weekly newspaper ran the following article on its front page. We deliberately left off which publication it is, since it could have been any of the pioneer papers printed in the Cowboy State at that time. Enjoy.

Last week, our talk was with the business men – those who have something to sell. This week we have somewhat to say to the man and woman who buy.

We never saw anyone who wasn’t proud of a good bargain, especially something bought cheaply. It’s all right to sell at a good price, but the average individual will walk ten miles to get a thing below the usual price, where he wouldn’t walk one mile to buy the same thing above the usual mark.

If you don’t believe it, just visit a bargain counter that has been duly advertised. If you get out with your life and your moral integrity, you are fortunate.

A few days before the writer left Cripple Creek, there was a fire sale in one of the stores. Business had been dull, and one of the sons of Moses in that town was afflicted with a fire in his clothing store. He advertised a fire sale. Sent to a neighboring town where he had a branch store and brought all the old shop-worn and unsellable goods which had been accumulating for years and put them on sale. “50 percent off,” “Goods below cost,” “$100,000 stock almost given away.”

What was the result? The opening day, a line of women stretching two blocks each way from the entrance all day long, testified eloquently to the crowd inside and to man’s desire for a bargain.

And they got bargains. Indeed, they did. Boys’ shoes which had always sold at $2.50, were actually “given away” at $1.45. Other goods in proportion. Now for the application.

Don’t be afraid to pay a fair price for a good article. To be sure you are sometimes almost robbed. But if you deal with an honorable, established firm – and there are such in all towns – you’ll be treated right. And if not, you can always go back and have your wrongs righted, always.

And you’ve always a chance to get back at least a part of what you’ve spent.

Those men live here. Their money goes to build up the community. Do you need a school house? It very largely comes from the business man. Does the town need lighting, sidewalks pavements, sewerage? The business man must go down in his pocket. He is your neighbor, your friend, your helper – even as you are his. Do you need an accommodation to carry you over a hard place? Well, you don’t write to Monty-Hard & Co. and tell them your needs. Not any. You trot around to the fellow who has been “robbing” you, and he gives you the needful until things ease up a bit.

Recently, a church congregation in a Kansas town built a new church. To pay for it, they were obliged to call on the merchants of the community for donations. They responded liberally, and $300 was soon raised from this source. The last man to subscribe was a jeweler.

“I’ll give you $20 if you will let me add something to the list,” he said.

The permission was accorded him, and he wrote at the foot of the list:

John Smith, jeweler.....$20

Sears, Roebuck & Co...$00.00

Montgomery, Ward &
Co. ... $00.00

The people saw the point when the minister read from the pulpit the list of donors to the building fund, and since the dedication of the church, there has not been any mail orders sent out from that town.

This is the first of a two-part series to be continued next week. In the meanwhile, please shop at home.

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