Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Remember When . . . We Shopped for Discounts?

I admit it--I have shopping on the brain. For the first time in six months, I'm actually going shopping. As in, look around, not just go in for one thing in particular. With my mom and mom-in-law. And my kids. All morning. Can't wait. =)

So the other day when I was reading through my current work-in-progress and came across a fun factoid about 18th century shopping, it jumped out at me. And I thought, "Hey, I've yet to tell them about vendues!"

Ever hear of these? I hadn't, until reading Washington's Spies by Alexander Rose. One of the historical figures he talks about (and who also appears in my book) apprenticed in a store called Templeton & Stewart in the City of New York. T&S had two divisions--an upscale one in the fashionable district of the city, and then a vendue across from the city's red light district, Holy Ground. 

I would have scratched my head upon reading that, had Mr. Rose not gone on to explain what this "vendue" thing was, LOL. Apparently it's much like a discount store today. When there was either overstock or damaged goods in a regular store, they would send it to a vendue, where the goods were either auctioned off or marked down.

Apparently there was some grumbling when Templeton & Stewart opened a vendue, from owners of other retailers. But they were soon happy to see that it didn't detract from their clientele--that two different sets of people shopped in these two different kinds of stores.

I just loved learning that this whole idea is so well established. In my hometown we have a discount store that always got overstock and damaged stuff--once upon a time this meant most things had marks or holes, but if you looked hard you could find overstock. These days it's mostly overstock, and awesome overstock at that. Which would be why I'm heading that way in an hour. So have a great day, folks! Off I go! ;-)


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