Life in America has gone through drastic changes since the early part of the century. The 1960s and 1970s saw the peak of S&H Green Stamps, which was the first popular trading stamp in the United States, and Europe. They started being distributed as early as 1896 in some regions but did not start gaining traction until the 1930s.
You may remember as a kid going over to your grandparent’s house and helping them stick the stamps into the pages that were added up to purchase items at one specific place. The Sperry & Hutchinson Co. was where you turned the pages of stamps in for the items they carried. Items carried is a slight understatement because the retail locations had every type of item that you could ever need.
If the item you wanted wasn’t actually in the store, you could find it in their catalog. During the height of the Green Stamps craze, the company stated that its publication was the biggest in the nation. They also claim that they distributed more stamps than the Post Office did, and that is quite an accomplishment when you think about it.
S&H Co. started out in Alabama, with all of its original locations staying inside the state’s borders. The catalogs were sent to every other state in the nation. And overseas to the European countries participating in the program. If you had a way to receive mail, you could get a catalog and turn your booklets of Green Stamps in for quality merchandise.
Green Stamps had become so popular for a couple of decades that companies would offer free stamps to people that used their location for their needs. Gas stations were especially prone to give out stamps to their customers, making it easy for people to collect them while getting something they needed anyway. The more gas the customers filled up with, the more stamps they received.
S&H Green Stamps changed the way people shopped for items, making it necessary for 80% of the population to pay attention to where they conducted business. If a company did not give them Stamps for stopping by and using their products, they would move on to the next location. During the Great Recession, Green Stamps fell from favor, being sold off numerous times before disappearing into the history books.