Marketing Saline: Circa 1931

 12/22/2017 - 04:57
Envelope promoting Saline Michigan by The Saline Observer, circa 1931
The flap side of this envelope from the early 1930s provides a snapshot in time for how Saline was promoted as an advanced, thriving community in which to live and do business. Copyright on this image has expired and it is being posted as Public Domain. It was originally published by The Saline Observer.

As we come to the end of each year with increasing anticipation of the next, it's almost instinctual to reflect on the past in making plans for the future.

Today we thought it might be nice to look back a lot further than most. In this case, the way Saline was promoted as a community for commerce was with images of "Old Maud" rolling down Michigan Avenue and new articles published in The Saline Observer every Thursday.

Just over 86 years ago now, the envelope shown above was state-of-the-art marketing for Saline Michigan.

Notable data points such as our thousand-person population and "nearly a million and a half dollars" on deposit in the two banks here, set the stage. Our telephone exchange had "six hundred subscribers."

Front and center on this presentation, those who might have had themselves as preceding David Ogilvy chose to emphasis the Lake Shore & Michigan Southern Railway and Detroit United Railway at the very top of our advantages as "The Better Town."

Education was clearly important. And Saline was an ideal place to live for that (in a place that was not "poor appearing," at that). Debt was a concern to be avoided and the 1920 marketing gurus were quick to point out that our public library and four beautiful churches were all free from that.

It was important to position Saline as competitive and advanced in terms of technology. Public utility offerings topped the list. Our rural heritage included not just "rich" farmlands, but "the best farm buildings in the State." Monroe Street was a particular point of pride thanks to the Saline Creamery.

All of this is the supporting "headline" and "copy" for the advertisement. Would you like to see that graphic images that hooked the 1930s era recipients? We've included that here, too, on The Saline Post Forums in its "Saline History" section.

What are your thoughts on marketing Saline, circa 1931? How well do you think it reflects reality? Where does it fit with the city you believe we are today?

Share your thoughts in the Comment section below or here on the Forums.

d2 Saline
d2 Saline provides fine prints and postcards featuring our own original photography. Postcards can be purchased from a variety of local retailers and gift shops in Saline, as well as through our gallery at 450 East Michigan Avenue, Suite 2 (in the Huntington Bank building) and online. We've been in business since 1983. Contact Janet Deaton, proprietor, at 668-1200 for further information.

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History Mom's picture

At Christmastime, as always, Saline merchants were quick to promote the local stores with ads in The Observer. Although citizens were in the throes of the Great Depression, there were ways, such as bartering, to make do with what little money was available. Store owners ordered seasonal items to whet the appetite of anyone who had a spare nickel or such. Oranges and nuts, even poinsettias, came in on the train from the south. Traveling salesmen had samples of new fabrics, lovely hair brushes, socks, etc.

     Old Maude was no longer available to travelers in the 1930s, but if Saline Christmas shoppers had to get to the city, they could catch the regular train at the depot and take it to Ypsilanti. Or, once there, they could transfer to Ann Arbor. B.E. Muehlig Dry Goods had a store at the corner of Washington and Main Street in Ann Arbor. They posted an ad in The Observer titled "Christmas Gifts That Will Make Everyone Happy". Among other things, they offered Hand Bags $1 - $4.95; Women's Hosiery $1; Quaker and SWcranton Lace Table Cloths from $1.95; North Star Wool Blankets with Satin Binding from $6.95 - $16.50, a fortune in those days. Not many could afford that extravagance.



d2 Saline's picture

Thank you so much for further enriching this article, History Mom. Yours is just the sort of contribution we were hoping to elicit with our story about a little envelope that seemed to have even more messages to share.

To further underscore your point about "Old Maude," our link in the article above shows an end date sometime in September of 1925. So, what do you think about the postmark we have here — reflecting continued use of a mailer then over six years out-of-date?

We removed the address from the envelope before putting the image out here (being sensitive to privacy), but I can say that on the original it is neatly typewritten for a destination in New York.

Should we think the user too frugal to produce something more current for a 1931 mailing?