My father started out pumping gas, 10 cents a gallon, making a wage of a dime each hour. That was the best he could do as an engineering graduate in the thin job market of the 1940’s. So he joined the army and lived well as a newly-married Lieutenant on a dollar a day.
After World War II, he built up a chain of toy stores. Even Gov. Edgar said my Dad’s store was one of the highlights of his youth. In the early sixties, he created 3 newspaper ads for a 9-day campaign which showed people how good his prices were at his bargain toy store.
1. For the first 3 days he had a trunk full of silver dollars he was selling, one per customer, for 88 cents each (A silver dollar in the early sixties would buy a lot more than it would today.)
2. Then for the second 3 days he had a big stack of two-dollar bills for $1.76 each.
3. For the third 3 days he was going to advertise three-dollar bills for $2.64… but retracted that ad as he would have “found out” that three-dollar bills don’t exist.
He sold only one silver dollar the first day and that was to the newspaper reporter who was there to discover the gimmick. No gimmick. But no crowd either.
Dad said the offer seemed too good to be true. But what he really regretted was redepositing that trunk load of 500 real silver dollars back into the bank. They would be worth more than $12,000 now.
– William Owen