Sunday, June 25, 2017

"Premium Prize Coupon" for
The Music Box in Swarthmore

Here's an old "Premium Prize Coupon" from The Music Box, a record store that was located at 10 Park Avenue in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania (just a few minutes from the old family home on Oak Crest Lane in Wallingford).

If you collected a sufficient number of coupons, you could get a free 98-cent record or even a free $3.98 record. I have no idea how coupons were originally distributed. Maybe it was as simple as you received one coupon for every $1 or $2 worth of products purchased. So, perhaps you could get a free 98-cent record after purchasing ten 98-cent records.

According to the coupon, the store sold records, sheet music, needles, batterys [sic], high fidelity [equipment?], stereos and TVs. The shop's phone number was KI 3-1460.

Here are some other tidbits I discovered about The Music Box:

  • There's an advertisement for The Music Box in the 1947 edition of The Halcyon, Swarthmore College's yearbook. So the business dates back at least that far. In 1947, however, it had a different location — 409 Dartmouth Avenue in Swarthmore.
  • According to a short news item in the August 21, 1965, issue of Billboard magazine: "The Music Box, suburban music and record shop in Swarthmore, Pa., changed its name to Hi-Fi Studio-Music Box." So this coupon dates to sometime before August 1965.
  • And here are some lengthy excerpts from an article1 headlined "Component sales spurt among hi fi experts on local campuses" in the June 10, 1971, edition of the Philadelphia Daily News:
    Dick Shafer, manager of Hi Fi Studio Music Box, Swarthmore, can attest to that because this firm's sales among the teenagers and young college student set has been increasing significantly in the past few years. "The youngsters today think nothing of spending their money for good stereo systems," Shafer said recently. "It never fails to surprise me the amount of knowledge they have of the equipment and the latest developments. It also appears to me that young people must have ultra sensitive ears because they can pick out faults in a system almost immediately and it is very difficult to get anything past them."

    Nevertheless, Shafer and his boss, Harry Oppenlander, love to sell to the youngsters. "I learn something new every time I wait on a youngster here in the store," Shafer said. "For instance, I learned The Hi-Fi stereo component system has become somewhat of a status symbol among to day's younger set — particularly those attending area colleges."

    The way sales have been progressing in recent years at Hi Fi Studio Music Box, every dormitory room at Swarthmore College and most other area colleges must have its own stereo system. The little store in the heart of quaint Swarthmore has become a mecca for area college students because, according to Shafer, "the word passes from ear to ear very quickly among college students. They meet at parties and sports events and very often the talk evolves around stereo systems and the latest in hit records."

    But don't get the idea Hi-Fi Studio Music Box is only for youngsters. It's not, because the firm didn't build its solid reputation among students alone. "Just as stereo systems are growing among youngsters, so, too, are they growing in popularity among the older set," according to Shafer. "I think the youngsters have taught the older people how to really enjoy music," Shafer contends. "I know that we pass on the knowledge we get from the kids to the older people who come in and they are always amazed. For instance, most of the older people listen to the sound or the total score. We have been teaching them to listen for individual instruments and it has enhanced their enjoyment of the set."

1. I'm not sure whether this is an actual newspaper article or an advertorial. I have some suspicions about the urgency with which it is promoting the sale of stereos.

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