A bigger bang for your buck, 1933

There were at least four weekly tabloid size newspapers that sprang up over the years to compete with The Enterprise which will be celebrating its 150 Anniversary this year. None lasted very long.

I have a copy of one, The Advertiser, dated Friday, Sept. 29, 1933 from which I will mine today’s column from those ragged pages.

The Masthead reads:

“An independent newspaper published each Friday at the Mulflur Building, 84 Main Street, Saranac Lake, N.Y. Telephone 1444. Publisher and Advertising Manager, Russell Dawson. Editor Donald S. McNeil

So, now, dear readers I present to you a detailed lesson in economics, a subject of which I know absolutely nothing about.

A night on the town

Now Saturday night rolls around and you want to take your wife out for a night on the town.

Let’ see, she decides she wants to get her hair done before the big date – okay that’s a good idea.

Then we’ll go to dinner and later take in a movie, double feature. We stop for a beer after the movie at our favorite pub and as we head home, the wife suggests getting a few items at the grocery store.

They pick up 4 pounds of Concord grapes, 2 pounds of hamburger, 2 pounds of lean pot roast, 3 boxes of Post Bran Flakes and oh, a jar of their favorite pickles.

Back at their cozy home, the man of the house [that’s what the husband was known as in 1933], puts his wallet on the bedroom dresser and counts his money – that evening out cost him exactly $4.44.

Here is the breakdown taken from the prices listed in the newspapers advertisements:

The original 50c “Beauty Parlor”, 75 Main Street – cottage calls, open evenings.

Dinner at Coogan’s Restaurant, 76 Main St. — 50c each, or whole broiled lobster with French fires — 75c — Free delivery in City Limits.

Movies 20c each, beer, 10c a glass — the hamburger for 2 pounds was 25c — the 3 boxes of brand flakes cost 25c — etc., I won’t list everything but you get the drift of the economy lesson, right?

It is only my guess but maybe the depression did not hit Saranac Lake as it did other communities. The thriving TB health industry, that’s what it was, had hundreds of people working at Trudeau, Stonywold, Ray Brook, Will Rogers and all those big cure cottages in the village.

Those doctors, nurses, food and laundry workers and maintenance people all were vital to those institutions.

The merchants are pro-active

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics $1000 in 1933 is equivalent to about $15,000 today in purchasing power.

The community was the shopping center of the Adirondacks which created the “Little City in the Adirondacks” logo.

All of the online buying is hurting the economy of every small town in America so the merchants in 1933 created the Civic Defense League with the slogan – “Keep Your Dollars In Circulation At Home”… and handed out $1000 in prizes and merchandise. More than 130 businesses handed out tickets for those drawings.

An excerpt under the headline “Village Noted for Its Shops”

“Go west, young man, or old man, woman or child; go east or south or north. Look at the villages and towns, the cities of lesser population. Which among them can show you the number of shops, the variety of merchandise, the conveniences for buying which Saranac Lake stores place daily at the disposal of their customers? In how many of these communities can you avail yourself of immediate delivery to your door of any article, large or small; of the convenience of a selection of merchandise sent to your home in order that you may chose your purchases; of the pleasure of prompt, cheerful refund if for any reason you are dissatisfied with what you bought?

“Saranac Lake is noted for its shops. Not one visitor in ten, new to the village, but who remarks upon them, upon the complete stocks they carry, the remarkable service they render to sick and well alike. It is a condition unique in a village of this size, individual to Saranac Lake, has been built up by the years of demand for just such service in this community.

“It is these men and these businesses which the Civic Defense League is striving to maintain against the competition of outside forces.

“They are an integral part of the community. We ask your cooperation to the extent that you genuinely try to make your purchases in Civic League Defense League stores.”

Part two will continue next week: the NRA.


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