Are you old enough to remember getting S & H Green Stamps from the grocery store, gas stations and department stores? It was one of the original consumer loyalty rewards program.
Founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchinson, the S & H Company began their green stamp rewards program in the 1930’s. They would sell their green stamps to businesses who would then give out green stamps to customers. The number of stamps you received was based on how much money you spent.
Stores would compete with one another by trying to give more stamps for the same amount of purchase. Gas stations and stores would have signs advertising their participation in the S & H Green Stamps Program to entice customers to do business there.
Customers flocked to the businesses that gave out green stamps. During the heyday of green stamp collecting in the 1960’s, it was estimated that 80% of United States households collected the stamps.
The S & H Company gave out free 24 page booklets for keeping track of how many green stamps you had. The stamps came in three denominations…one, ten, and fifty points. It took fifty points to fill a page in the stamp booklets. Once a book was filled, the owner had 1200 points.
Consumers could exchange their filled booklets of green stamps for all kinds of household and other items (even life insurance) from the S & H Green Stamps Catalog or at an actual brick and mortar S & H Green Stamp Store. Each item in the catalog or the store would have a certain green stamp value assigned and shoppers would save their stamps until they had enough to trade for the item they wanted. Friends and family would give filled S & H Green Stamp Booklets as gifts.
Being a child of 1960’s, I remember sitting at her kitchen table and helping my grandmother lick and stick green stamps into the booklets. My grandmother kept all her booklets and loose green stamps in an old cigar box. She knew I liked to fill the books with her so she would save that task for my visits. We would get so excited each time we filled a booklet and got that much closer to the item for which we were saving!
I learned some important life lessons at that kitchen table working on those S & H Green Stamp Booklets with my grandmother; lessons that I have used many times in my adult life. I learned how much fun it was to work on a project with someone else. I learned about patience and persistence and working toward a goal. And, I learned how satisfying it is to reach that goal after much time and effort.
The S & H Green Stamp Program declined with the economic recessions in the 1970’s. Fewer companies bought the stamps, and the number of stamps needed to get an item became so high that saving green stamps was no longer worth the time and effort.
The good news is that although the company was sold in 1981, it is still around and is now virtual. You can earn S & H Greenpoints for online purchases. These Greenpoints can be redeemed for gift cards from hundreds of your favorite stores and businesses. See www.greenpoints.com for more information.
Author’s note: I have no connection to this company other than my fond memories of saving S & H Green Stamps as a child.