Thursday, January 24, 2019

Apocalyptic Marketing – 1959 Style

Here’s a strange sales ad for Lorain Surplus Discount Center that ran in the Lorain Journal on January 5, 1959 – 60 years ago this month.

Lorain Surplus Center first appeared in the Lorain City Directory in the early 1950s. It was located at 515 Broadway, taking over a space previously occupied by Goodman’s Home Furnishers (a company with a longtime presence in Elyria). The names in the city directory that were associated with the business, which was described as sporting goods, were Arthur J. London and Sidney Gluck.

The sales ad was certainly designed to attract attention, with its apocalyptic ad copy describing “an avalanche of price destruction” sweeping down on folks that “no power on earth can halt.” Warnings of “BRACE YOURSELF” and “BE PREPARED” drive home the feeling of menace and jeopardy. And all of this was juxtaposed with a 1950s clip art illustration of an average man, beaming with delight.

Near the bottom of the ad, the sale is also described as a “seething tornado of price destruction,” which may not have been the best way to attract Lorainites to the sale (the 1924 tornado still being relatively fresh in many residents’ minds).

Anyway, Lorain Surplus Discount Center seemed to have been whisked away by its own seething sales cyclone. The company disappeared from the city directory in the 1959 edition, with the location listed as ‘vacant.’  It was replaced in the directory at the 515 Broadway address in the next edition by Trotter’s Office Supply.

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