Picture it. It’s the 1940s. A gentleman receives a $50 gift certificate to Smith and Byars men’s store in Starkville, Mississippi.
In those day, that generous gift would have bought a new suit and probably a shirt and shoes to match!
But our gentleman wasn’t in any hurry to use it up. That’s a man for you. A woman would have redeemed it by dark!
In fact, he waited more than 60 years to cash it in. Talk about procrastination!
The truth is, he never tried to use it. Recently, an heir sauntered over to Sammy Smith, the store’s current owner, and produced the antique gift certificate. He never doubted it would be honored because he knew who he was doing business with.
So what if Sammy Smith was playing little league baseball when the certificate was purchased. He didn’t think twice about redeeming the thing which was handwritten – probably with his own father, J. Harry Smith’s pen.
Try that one time at a national chain or big box store. Well, you can’t, because those chains didn’t exist that long ago and they don’t have a very becoming attitude when it comes to money.
These days, gift certificates have the shelf life of a stuffed bell pepper. Either they are no good at all in a very short time, or the retailer deducts a few dollars from the value at regular intervals.
A friend gave me a gift certificate for a manicure in January. I’ll be lucky if there’s enough left to do my pinky finger. If ever there was a good reason to shop at home with your independent retailers, this it one of many.
I have a friend I’ll call Ruthie because that’s her name. She absolutely refuses to purchase Christmas presents anywhere but in her home town. That impressed the heck out of me.
I wish I had adopted that policy. That pesto sauce I purchased at Fresh Market in Jackson – the one I opened yesterday to find mold on the top one-fourth of the bottle – would have been exchanged by now and I would have that $4.99 back in my pocket instead of in the garbage can.
Those garden shoes I purchased in Tuscaloosa and got home to find I had two left feet wouldn’t require the price of an extra tank of gas to exchange them.
I keep remembering that $100 Confederate bill we found among my grandfather’s possessions. Worth Zip. Zippo.
Buyer beware when you’re purchasing gift certificates or dealing with a retailer or business person who you’re not likely to run into at church on Sunday.