Do you remember Green Stamps?

green stamps

Pasting stamps into this buy-hundreds-of-dollars'-worth-of-groceries-and-get-a-free-knife card got me to thinking about the Green Stamps we collected in my 1960s childhood at the Manse.

Pasting stamps into this buy-hundreds-of-dollars’-worth-of-groceries-and-get-a-free-knife card got me to thinking about the Green Stamps we collected in my 1960s childhood at the Manse.

The Foodland supermarket in Madoc (the town nearest the Manse in Queensborough) is encouraging people to shop there by giving customers stamps (one stamp per $10 spent, I believe) that you can paste on a card and, if you get enough, exchange for kitchen knives. Raymond and I don’t need kitchen knives particularly, but then again you can never have too many; and since we were spending the money on groceries anyway we figured we might as well take the stamps. While I was sticking them onto the card one recent day (still a long way from a free knife, as I discovered), I thought – for the first time in many a decade – of the green stamps people used to collect and exchange for – well, stuff. Mostly household stuff, but there were other things too (toys?), I think.

I have a vivid memory of my mum having those stamp books at the Manse, and how they bulged when they were full of pasted-in stamps. What I do not remember was where they came from. I can’t think that Bobbie’s or McMurray’s general stores – independent operations, obviously – gave them out, and I don’t recall it being the Kincaid Bros. IGA in Madoc either.

When I looked up green stamps just now, I learned that in the U.S. they were S&H (for the Sperry & Hutchison Company) Green Stamps, and I have to say the images looked familiar. Our friend Wikipedia has this to say:

S&H Green Stamps (also called Green Shield Stamps) were trading stamps popular in the United States from the 1930s until the late 1980s. They were distributed as part of a rewards program operated by the Sperry & Hutchinson company (S&H), founded in 1896 by Thomas Sperry and Shelley Byron Hutchinson. During the 1960s, the rewards catalog printed by the company was the largest publication in the United States and the company issued three times as many stamps as the U.S. Postal Service. Customers would receive stamps at the checkout counter of supermarkets, department stores, and gasoline stations among other retailers, which could be redeemed for products in the catalog. 

But that’s the U.S., right? What about Canada? Well, I also discovered that Loblaws stores had a green-stamps program of their own, called Lucky Green Stamps. Here’s what it says on the Loblaws site:

Lucky Green Stamps1959 – Loblaws enters the trading stamp wars with its own “Lucky Green Stamps.” Featured on its saver books is Miss Lucky Green, a bright-eyed, pony tailed little girl. With wand in hand, she points the way to the “Magic World of Gifts” that awaits Loblaws shoppers. The Loblaws Lucky Green Stamp Gift Catalogue, with hundreds of household items to choose from, becomes a mainstay in many homes.

Trouble is, in Queensborough we were a long, long way from a Loblaws supermarket, so our Green Stamps couldn’t have come from there.

Anybody got any ideas?

Anyway, wherever they came from, I know that my mum did redeem them. I’m not really sure what items in the Manse came to us as a result of Green Stamps – with one exception. The one thing I am pretty sure of was a set of melamine dishes – turquoise! – that were perfect for a large (four kids) rambunctious young family. (I don’t think it is possible to break melamine dishes, though you can burn them. Don’t ask me how I know.) Where that set ended up I’ve no idea (the dump would be my best guess, more’s the pity), but the happy news is that Raymond and I have a replacement for it:

melamine dishes

We found this set – the right colour and everything! – at some antiques-and-collectibles warehouse or other a few years ago. A little expensive, but I knew I’d be kicking myself if I passed it by. So the turquoise melamine dishes sit at the Manse, unused to date, but I’m sure their time will come.

Do you suppose the original owner got them with Green Stamps? I’d like to think so.

12 thoughts on “Do you remember Green Stamps?

  1. We are collecting the knife stickers to obtain knives for the Community Kitchen run by the Madoc Helping Hands Food Bank (which I run!)

    • Hey, that’s terrific, Sally! We will bring you our collected stamps as a donation to the food bank. It will be a great excuse to finally meet you in person! We’ll be at the Manse all this coming week. See you in Queensborough!

  2. The IGA (Independent Grocers Association) had books of stamps but if memory serves me properly, they were actually called Gold Bond Stamps in Ontario. I don’t remember ‘Green Stamps’ but maybe in this area the books your Mom had were possibly Gold Bond From IGA? Or am I leading you down a false path? Not sure, problem with getting old so young, memory plays tricks on us.

    • Hmmm – that is interesting. If IGA stores gave out Gold Bond stamps (the origin of which I found here), it would stand to reason that, since Kincaid Bros. IGA was our local supermarket – it was in the building where the Hidden Goldmine Bakery now is in downtown Madoc – it was indeed those stamps that we collected. But I have a very strong memory of the stamps being green. The plot thickens!

    • Yes I live in Ontario, the states called them green stamps we called them gold bond stamps. for every 100 we got a bonus in return

      • Very interesting, Patricia – thanks! More and more I am thinking that the stamps I remember from my childhood must have been Gold Bond stamps. (Maybe I only thought of them as Green Stamps because that was such a well-known thing from south of the border.)

  3. I certainly remember the stamps! It was my job to lick and stick. But I can’t remember if they were Green Stamps – I might be easily confused about that because of the influence of American media – I grew up in the Fort Erie area – so the name would have been around. And the excitement of looking through the little catalogue and positively dreaming about the goodies we could get. Don’t remember, either, which store our stamps came from, but my dad always ‘took my mother shopping’ on Friday nights, and my dad and I always had a little stroll down the main street to get a cone of chips from the chip wagon while my mother shopped for the groceries. Mmm…lots of vinegar and salt! Yum.

    • Those are great memories! It sounds like Friday night was then for you – as it is now for Raymond and me, and it’s something of a mantra for us – “the best night of the week!” That was some seriously good quality time with your dad!

  4. I haven’t been collecting the Madoc stamps, but when I’m at the cash and they ask me if I want them, I’ve been saying, ‘No thanks. Give mine to the next collector in line.’ It’s amazing how thrilled people are to get that little unexpected bonus.

  5. I always thought that there was some sort of legislation or order to cancel the green stamps because of problems with the value they contributed to shopping costs.

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