Let’s Flashback Minnesota: Before Amazon There Was S&H Green Stamps
We live in such an era of instant gratification, from our high-speed internet to cell phones where we can video call one another to have a more personal experience. We may not have flying cars like “The Jetson’s” projected but life sure is easier with some of the cool toys we have.
We were having a conversation at work this week that made me reflect on my youth and one thing that popped into my head was S&H Green Stamps. Some of my co-workers remembered them, the co-workers who are of a certain age of course.
My wife ordered something online the other day and it was on our doorstep the next day.
This wasn’t how S&H Green Stamps worked. They taught us patience, and diligence, and even helped develop loyalty to certain retailers.
For those who aren’t familiar with S&H, you would get these “stamps” as a reward for shopping at certain stores, for my family it was mainly from our local grocery store. The more you spent, the more you’d earn. Then you had to put the stamps you collected into a book to help you keep them together and keep count of how much you had.
S&H had a catalog, or what they called “Ideabook”, where you could flip through the pages and see what you liked, and how much it costs, meaning how many books of stamps it would take to get the item. For the younger generation, a catalog or “Ideabook” was like a website that you would hold in your hand.
I spent many days looking through the “Ideabook” and hoping we’d get enough stamps to redeem them for all the cool stuff I found inside.
Of course, when you did finally get the number of stamps you needed, unless you lived near a redemption center, you’d have to mail in your stamps, wait for them to be processed and then wait for your item to be mailed back to you. In some cases, it could take a couple of months before you got what you wanted.
For one of my early teenage birthdays, I wanted my own radio. Really, I wanted a “Jambox”, you know one of the big ones that would cause the veins to pop out of your head when you carried it. My Baptist preacher father and my mother wouldn’t allow that, so I got an AM/FM Cassette player (it had one speaker on the front of it) that I could carry with me without causing a hernia or rattling the neighbors' windows.
I picked it out in March and my mom saved the green stamps and finally had enough for my birthday which was in late August. Our family did what a lot of families around the country would do and use the green stamps for special occasions like birthdays.
I hadn’t thought about S&H Green stamps in years, so it was a nice trip down memory lane. I was surprised to learn that S&H went online in 2000 with a product called “greenpoints”.
That site was kept active until 2020, then it was shut down and transitioned into myfreshpoints.com which is for a store called “Food Town” which is based out of New York.
Their customers accrue points when they shop and then redeem those points for free items or getting items at a reduced price from their store.
Things may have changed over the years and S&H Green Stamps weren’t the same as Amazon, but in the 1980’s, I thought they were pretty darn cool.
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