vintage newspaper ad of the day: buyers get busy!

Vintage Ad: Get Buyers Busy!

 Waterloo Chronicle-Telegraph, December 23, 1920. Click on image for larger version.

There's a lot of finger-pointing and fist-shaking going on in this ad. These elements are not unusual in early 20th century newspaper advertising, especially appeals to consumers to keep buyers busy. Store ledgers won't stand for passive purchasers. 

Using the Bank of Canada's inflation calculator, that free car fare for "buyesr" would require the equivalent of a $900 purchase today. The radius for that offer may have stretched out to Hamilton, Harriston, Orangeville, and Simcoe.  

A few details about J. Letter & Son, from the Waterloo Historical Society Journal:

The J. Letter and Son furniture store opened November 28, 1907, on what was later 38, now 40 King Street South, beside the railroad tracks. An attached undertaking business started a few months later on July 1, 1908. John's son Norman ran the businesses with his father. Norman took over the business after his father's death in 1925 and renamed it N.H. Letter, Funeral Directors and Home Furnishers. By 1927 the business had moved to 46 and 48 King Street North, closer to Princess Street.

Norman's son, Howard worked with his father in the businesses, which moved to 116 King Street North at the corner of Spring Street in the 1930s where the sign read "Letter's and Dreisinger's Undertaking". The business was associated with C. Dreisinger Furniture and Undertaking in Elmira.

The business closed in 1943 upon the retirement of Norman Letter and the building was changed back into a residence for Norman and his wife Lydia. The building was demolished in the 1970s and the land sold.


J. Letter and Son Furniture and Funeral Directors, Waterloo, Ontario. Christmas Window, 1913. Waterloo Public Library.

As strange as it may seem to some people now, furniture making and undertaking often went hand-in-hand. Both trades required skilled woodworkers. People who built coffins could equally create fine home decor pieces (or, as in case of 19th century Woodstock, Ontario undertaker/furniture craftsman James McIntyre, also find time to write odes to cheese). 

Source: Waterloo Historical Society Journal, Volume 92, 2004.

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