(Editorial Note: Part 187 of a series of further development in the early days that impacted Franklin County. Sources: Franklin County Citizen, 1914-1920; Wikipedia; Hometown Album, compiled by Newell Hart.)
Storekeepers, whether they had a trading post, a general store or a more streamlined department store, have always searched for ways to appeal to their customers’ needs for the merchandise in their inventories.
White Goods Sales have been around a long time, but with the changes that have come into the art called housekeeping there have been major changes in the sales. According to Google sources, the term ‘white goods’ was first used in 1807 and the dictionary lists ‘white goods’ as an archaic description of domestic linens.
“In 1878, John Wanamaker of Philadelphia department store fame, decreed January to be the time for a “White sale.” Bed linens, which were available in white only, were sold at a discount. This was done to increase sales for these items at a time of the year when sales were normally slow.”
The Golden Rule Store came to Preston in 1908. It was store #4 for the growing chain of stores originating in Kemmerer, WY, under the development of James Cash Penney. The Golden Rule stores operated withPenny’s philosophy of giving the customer a better value for less. Golden Rule advertisements stated “We sell you standard merchandise for less.”
Preston’s store held a White Goods Sale in January of 1914. The ad in the Franklin County Citizen reads, “While others are having their usual special sales to clear up the old stock, we are offering bright new merchandise at our usual low prices. Our position today for handling merchandise in great quantities (more than handled by many large wholesalers) has commanded the attention of large manufacturers and secured us concessions that have cut out all middlemen.
“We also have the advantage of carload freight rates to a central shipping point. Taking those things into consideration you can readily see why THE GOLDEN RULE STORE system has been so successful. Below we quote a few of the special bargains we have secured for the January Sale.”
Fabric by the yard was a big item under the heading of Staples. Good percale, 6.5 cents per yard. Dandy percale at 8.3 cents. Extra heavy percale would cost $.10. Bleached muslin was similarly priced. The homemaker of that day needed to know what quality she wanted in the making of her bed linen.
Some colored yardage was also for purchase at this sale: Shirting, Best Calico. Good, better and best ticking started at 10 cents a yard and went upward to 15 cents, suitable for covering a straw-filled or goose down- filled tick, or mattress.
Included in this particular sale of 1914 were household notions — necessities in every well-run home. Hair pins for a penny a package, envelopes for a nickel a package. Shoe polish. Curling irons, Shinola, talcum powders, soap, shaving soap, garters (from Boston or Paris), arm bands from two pennies up to 10, hand brushes, whisk brooms, pins of a variety: brass, steel, straight, safety. The highest price in the notions section was 19 cents for Gilt Edge Shoe Polish.
J. C. Penney was obviously a canny businessman and history has proven his success. He visited the Preston store in 1915. The Golden Rule stores had gone from 70 locations in 1914, to 83 during 1915. Of the Preston store, Mr. Penney commented, ”Our business has been one steady increase ever since we opened in Preston.”
White Sales still take place in January, as well as other months, and in far more stores than those connected with Wanamaker or Penney. “White sales” should not be confused with sales on “white goods,” which is to say durable goods such as refrigerators, freezers, stoves, washing machines, and similar large appliances.” Nor does the color need to be white for either bedding or appliances.