My first memory of trading stamps were the “green stamps”. I was way too young to understand the concept of collecting stamps and trading them for other products. If you asked me what they looked like I would say green, with a touch of red in them. Yes, they were called Green Stamps, too. I actually found a picture of them. My memory serves me well.
The only thing I remember my parents buying with green stamps was a set of 6 TV dinner trays. They were cool. They were plastic but had a marble like design and an American eagle in the middle. It wouldn’t surprise me if they were still hanging around somewhere.
I have no other recollection of collecting stamps the rest of the time I lived in America.
Publisher Stamps in Switzerland
When I first came to Switzerland the stamp thing was relatively discreet. I didn’t really notice it at all. My parents in-law had a library full of rose and travel books. The rose books were “Silva” books and had pictures that were glued onto the pages. The way I understand it is that anyone could buy the books without pictures. The pictures were traded in for Silva coupons that you cut out of labels from different products. They sent you the pictures and you took the time and glued them on the right pages. This system was started shortly after the second World War. It seems that practically everyone collected those books.
The travel books were “Mondo” books and similar to “Silva” books. They were also acquired from the collected coupons points from different products. The difference being you didn’t have to glue in the pictures yourself.
Another post WWII company, BEA Publishers, uses the same rebate system that Silva and Mondo did. You collect coupon points found on different products. I suppose the idea being that someone would buy a product that offers BEA points over one that didn’t. It’s always nice to get something for nothing or at least less expensive. It looks like the BEA company sells products similar to the things green stamps offered many years ago. Toys and everyday articles are in their online collection.
The BEA publishing company not only lets its customers collect points, the company itself seems to collects companies. They took over the Avanti publishers in 1998, the Silva publishers in 2007 and Mondo in 2012.
Honestly, I never really got into the groove of collecting Mondo, Silva or BEA points.
Swiss Store Rebates
At some point stores trying to get and keep your business offer rebates using stamps or stickers. I collected stickers or rather “golden points” from a clothing store for many years. I still have a couple of filled cards. It’s pretty amazing when you think you must spent SFr 250 (at the moment that would be around $250) to fill a card. After which you could trade it in to get a whopping SFr 5 reduction on your next purchase. Wouldn’t that be a 2% reduction on the SFr 250?
Grocery Store Savings in Switzerland
I also distinctly remember when one of the two largest grocery store chains here offered stickers for the first time. You received one sticker pro SFr 20. The collection time was limited to three months I believe. You stuck them into a booklet. When that was full you went to the store and bought special pots, pans and knives at a “lower” price.
A whole new generation was hooked on collecting. Strangely enough though they didn’t seem to be buying the objects. Maybe they threw the stamps away, who knows, the stands with the shiny new pots and pans stayed full. I can only imagine that the store executives probably thought the whole plan had bombed. Then, 3 or 4 days before the special deal expired; total chaos. Everyone went to the store to buy the pots and pans they had saved so long for. The store was completely overwhelmed and was out of all the products in no time. To keep their customers happy they gave out rain checks with a waiting period of about 4 to 8 weeks. Apparently the new generation of collectors weren’t aware they could buy the objects as soon as the booklet was full.
Since then both major grocery store chains offer sticker collecting for different objects regularly. There are no more “runs” for the items at the end of the set time either. You would think the “new” would wear off but every half year or so the stickers and the objects on sale change and the collecting continues. Of course they offer something completely different every time, like towels or glasses to keep the collectors happy.
The Collecting Continues
When Ben and I moved away from Berne I wasn’t doing much sticker collecting. Depending on what the grocery store was promoting we either collected or we didn’t.
Once I went into an office supply store and bought some paper. After paying, the cashier asked me if I wanted “Pro Bow” (pronounced pro – bow(tie)). I said “What?” “Pro… Bow”. “I give up, what is a ‘pro bow’”? She patiently explained to me that many shops in the area give 10 “Pro Bow” points per SFr 10 spent. Once you have 440 points you can get SFr 10 in cash. She handed me an empty card, written on the front was “ProBon”. Ah yes, now I knew what she was saying. We live dangerously close to the French speaking part of Switzerland. All along she was pronouncing “Bon” in French. Sure. I’ll collect them what’s one more?
It’s been 11 years and I now have 3 full cards that I haven’t cashed in for a massive SFr 30.
I guess people have been collecting stamps and stickers for a long time. Our prehistoric ancestors were hunters and gatherers. It’s in our genes, we just have to collect and gather.