Memory Care Activity, Remembering S&H Green Stamps booklets and stores.
With the arrival of Black Friday, the Christmas shopping season is now officially upon us! For many of us, that means searching for deals online or standing in line at our favorite brick-and-mortar retail stores. We pay by cash, checks, credit, debit, or for the most digital savvy, cryptocurrency.
But for Encore residents at Birches Assisted Living and Memory Care, the busiest shopping weekend of the year meant an opportunity to shop for tangible items in the comfort of their home using a simple, old-fashioned form of payment – S&H Green Stamps.
Of course, these were not real Sperry & Hutchinson stamps but relatively close facsimiles created with the purpose of opening doors to the past and reliving the fun of collecting, saving, and redeeming these stamps.
As residents lined up to spend their stamps at the one-day-only Birches S&H Redemption Center this past Saturday, it was clear to see how much they were enjoying themselves.
For many of our memory care residents, S&H Green Stamps were a part of their childhood and adult lives.
From as far back as 1896 until the 1980s, the Sperry & Hutchinson company sold literal green stamps to retailers, who then gave them away free to their customers in increments of 1, 10, or 50, based on the amount of the customer's purchase.
Gas stations, supermarkets, and other stores issued the stamps, with each merchant giving them away at a different rate.
The incentive for retailers was to build customer loyalty if they gave out more stamps per dollar spent than their competitors. For the customer, it meant free goods and the joy of collecting and deciding what you'd get with your stamps.
Kitchenware, electronics, toys, and so much more could be obtained, and Green Stamps collectors could imagine the possibilities as they flipped through S&H catalogs called Ideabooks.
Plus, to make it easier to collect the stamps, S&H issued free Saver Books, which could each hold up to 1200 points worth. When you had enough saved, collectors could head to a nearby Redemption Center to claim the item for which they'd been longing.
To bring the experience of collecting Green Stamps to life for Encore residents, we decided it couldn't be simply an hour reminiscence activity. Instead, it should be a several-week campaign.
In early November, we began by watching videos about S&H, looking at pages from old catalogs, and talking about our memories.
Residents also spent a couple of days cutting pages, assembling them, and binding those pages into Saver Books for themselves and their neighbors.
Over the next few weeks, residents earned stamps for attending community events. Everyone immensely enjoyed putting stamps into their books at the end of each day.
Then finally, on Saturday, November 27th, items that had been donated for this shopping event were displayed at our temporary neighborhood Redemption Center for residents to peruse and choose using their accumulated stamp points.
With team members excited to help and residents taking their time to examine their options carefully, it was such a lovely day, with everyone finding some little treasure to take home. It was also a great learning experience for team members and others who had never been exposed to the joys of S&H stamp collecting.
With the success of this campaign, you can bet you'll see other sorts of extended reminiscing activities that help to transport our memory care community members back to simpler, more familiar times.
We look forward to discovering those opportunities and sharing them with you in the future!