Mom and Pops Rock for the Holidays

25 May Mom and Pops Rock for the Holidays

A framed front page from The Chicago Daily Tribune of  April 14, 1874 hangs in my home. There is no particular significance of the page, but it’s interesting nonetheless.

The lead story is a gripping an account of the sinking of the steamer Europe and mid-sea rescue of the survivors. Not a picture or graphic graces the page. There are various reports from Washington D.C., including a story on a Federal fraud investigation, passage of a railroad bill designed to stimulate the economy and several other articles that could be plucked from today’s headlines.

The stories could be plucked from today's headlines and the left hand column is chock full of local advertising.

What’s particularly fascinating, though, is that the entire far left column is devoted to ads for local merchants — two souvenir photo studios, a Realtor, the Merchants Exchange National Bank and two other financial institutions. There’s an ad for “fresh” California Salmon at A. Booth’s, which makes me wonder what salmon must have tasted like in 1874. A stationer, glassware retailer, doctor, dentist,  jeweler, grave site marker company and office rentals round out the ads, 20 in all.

It is notable that front page advertising apparently was commonplace in the late 1800s. Every one of the advertisers was local and for the most part they were small businesses. Most of the ad categories represented on this page still exist today. Successor companies to some of the advertisers still operate in Chicago, proof  that advertising works!

Somewhere between 1874 and today newspapers lost their way. Classified ads were booming. Every auto dealer, Realtor and major retailer had to run big ads to be competitive. Newspapers turned their backs on selling small space ads to humble merchants on Main Street — stationers and housewares retailers, photographers and grave marker companies. Too much work for too little gain seemed to be the attitude.

“Make sure your holiday sections are 100% geared to local Mom and Pops,” Tom Bradley, Ad Director of the Bartlesville, OK Examiner-Enterprise urged me today. “The big box stores don’t advertise with us.”

What a difference a few years makes. The CTW editorial department is decorated for Christmas right now! The editors are taking Tom’s words to heart, too. They’re building brand new holiday magazines from the ground up, chock full of ideas that highlight retailers on Main Street and appeal to local folks who shop there.

You can help. This year we are asking you to forward your ideas and suggestions to make CTW’s Celebrations holiday magazines and MiniSites™ truly yours, the best money-makers ever. Your idea could even win a new iPad!

Make your holiday selling season merry and bright. Forward your ideas for stories or for successfully marketing holiday to paul@contentthatworks.com. Your ideas will truly guide this year’s packages, plus you could end up winning an iPad — a sort of Christmas present in advance.

Mom and Pops rock. Lets get in touch with the businesses that were the foundation upon which newspapers and other local media were built. Small businesses are your biggest opportunity. Helping them helps you and your community.