Something jogged my memory a while back, and I started recalling my trips as a child to the S&H Green Stamp store in Danville.

S&H Green Stamps, for those who are far younger than I, were a line of trading stamps offered from the 1930s to the late 1980s.

Distributed as part of a rewards program through Sperry and Hutchinson, customers could receive S&H Green Stamps at the checkout counters of grocery stores, department stores and gasoline stations, among other retailers.

The stamps then could be redeemed for products in a catalog, becoming in a sense one the first loyalty programs similar in many ways to what we have today with a number of businesses and retailers.

The best part about Green Stamps for me was getting a chance to lick the back of the stamps before sticking them in a book, with each book containing enough stamps to count for 1,200 points,

I’d watch the books fill up until it was time to go to the Green Stamp store, in our family’s case, Danville, near the old Ballou Park Shopping Center.

Arranged on shelves throughout the store were various housewares and other items, costing a various amount of points.

Not only could you “purchase” housewares at Green Stamp stores, you could purchase sports items such as basketballs, if my memory serves me correctly.

That made trips to the Green Stamp store all the more memorable, and it was a far nicer trip than what I usually traveled to Danville for as a child, namely immunizations from my pediatrician.


At least I was rewarded with a trip to Woolworth’s afterwards for chocolate candy, wrapped in foil like a silver dollar, followed by a trip to the outdoor market outside of town, complete with straw floors.

Alas, the use of Green Stamps declined due to economic and other factors, and in 1972, Sperry & Hutchinson was even brought before the Supreme Court for violating the unfairness doctrine, with the court holding that the trade of the stamps was illegal.

Some may wonder why I delve into trivia, while so many more important issues surround us in today’s world, but the most complex of issues can be seen in the light of simple things that we all can understand.

A little trivia can go a long ways toward helping us understand the more complex things in life.

Doug Ford reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at

Doug Ford covers news and sports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at