Bullock, Ward & Co. of Chicago, Illinois were manufacturers of soap, perfumes, pure food flavor extracts and toilet specialties. The company was established in 1899 by Thomas H. Bullock and Phillip T. Ward, and primarily dealt in the mail order business.
List of known perfumes:
Printer's Ink, 1904:
List of known perfumes:
- Crab Apple Blossom
- Jockey Club
- White Rose
History:Ad Sense: Devoted to the Interests of Buyers of Advertising, Volume 1905:
"Bullock, Ward & Co is another notable instance of rapid development in the mail order business. About seven years ago, with a capital of $2,000, two young men started in business with the idea that they could furnish families the supplies used in the home, such as toilet and laundry soaps, toilet preparations, perfumes, extracts, baking powder, teas, coffees, spices, etc., and offer as an inducement a valuable premium.
Their first quarters were in a small room 20 x 30 feet, and their entire office force consisted of Messrs. Bullock & Ward and an office boy. I have watched their development and prosperity during the past six years and have called on them frequently, and about every year found them in larger quarters at a new location. Their last removal was to a large seven story building, containing over 30,000 square feet, and where they employ 150 people. Their annual sales now are nearly $1,500,000. They receive an average of nearly 500 orders every working day. They spend in postage alone over $30,000, and their advertising appropriation is over $100,000 a year .
Mr. P.T. Ward purchased the interest of Mr. Bullock several years ago, and he is now the sole owner and executive head of this great business concern.
In a conversation recently Mr. Ward stated that he attributed no small part of his firm's wonderful success to his consistent and persistent use of the advertising pages of the mail order papers, in which he spends over $100,000 a year. There is no doubt, however, that while this advertising started this business and started it quickly along the road to success, also that it continues to inject into it the necessary new lifeblood from day to day and from month to month that every business that is not dead or dying requires, yet it could never have been established on its firm and permanent foundation had it not been backed up by a strict adherence first, last, and all the time to two mottoes that are emblazoned all over their catalogues and printed matter: the first is, "The greatest possible value always for the least amount of money," and the second is. "We never consider a transaction settled till our customer is fully satisfied." Mr. Ward is a firm believer with President Roosevelt in the theory, "A square deal for every man."
Printer's Ink, 1904:
"Five years ago the firm of Bullock, Ward & Co began a mail order business in Chicago with $2, 000 and an idea. Their first office was a small room at $25 a month. The first month's advertising expenditure was $150. For the first six months the members of the firm handled their correspondence alone and packed all goods for shipping.
Today this firm occupies seven floors in a large building at 60 North Desplaines street, has a force of 100 employees an advertising expenditure of more than $100,000 yearly, and is pointed out as one of the most promising mail order houses in Chicago.
This is the shell of the story. To infer from it that success comes easily in the mail order field however would be wrong. The growth of Bullock, Ward & Co. is due to hard work and the adherence to an underlying idea that while not at all new is grounded on sound business sense.
The two largest mail order houses in Chicago have built up their great trade by selling everything conceivable to eat drink wear and use through their catalogues. Their trade too is wholly a cash business. Bullock, Ward & Co on the contrary have confined their operations to a single line of soaps flavoring extracts and toilet requisites doing business on a credit plan. Their idea is an amplification of the well known trust scheme which has been so successful in mail order operations.
This trust scheme consists in advertising for people who are willing to sell a few quick selling articles to friends in return for a premium. Boys and girls answer these ads in the majority of cases and receive by return mail entirely on suspicion a dozen cans of baking powder or as many shirtwaist sets. These are sold at ten cents each and when the money is returned to the advertiser the agent receives the promised premium which may be anything from a wax doll to a full jeweled engine turned double escapement solid gold watch with Mr. Ingersoll's own name on the lid. There the transaction ends usually.
Bullock, Ward & Co. have put this trust idea on a more permanent basis. Instead of children the firm appeals to men and women and instead of seeking a single transaction based on a more or less catchy premium a lasting business relation is begun with local agents who send in regular orders for staple articles. With each ten dollars worth of soaps etc., sold by its agents the firm gives substantial articles of furniture. Furnish your home without cost is its catch line and the key to the business. Credit is freely extended inquirers for sample cases but only after further correspondence and the furnishing of reference from responsible persons in the inquirer's own locality.
"We claim nothing new or the idea of our business," said Mr Ward, "except that we made it larger. Our success is due to the fact that we hung on through the period necessary to establish the business on a paying basis. There is no profit on the first order brought in by our advertising and wasn’t five years ago. There were no profits during our first year and we didn’t dare draw anything out the first six months. By the second year though we got our volume of business up to a point where it paid and carried the advertising. Before that the advertising was a heavy expense. It would take three years to establish such a business now conditions have grown so much harder. "
"In what respect?"
"Well the direct returns of mail order advertising are small and in order to build up a big mail trade it is necessary to establish lasting relations with people and sell them staples. Many advertisers imagine the mail order trade is a traffic in the novelties they see advertised in mail order papers It was once on a time. Now however novelties are employed only to create interest and bring an inquiry and I doubt their value even for that. When a man comes in here with a novelty to sell we freeze up right away. The things that everybody uses every day that's the foundation of the large mail order house. It takes time to get through the period of inquiries and profitless orders. When repeat orders begin to come the business is on a paying basis Inquiries cost more nowadays than they did a few years ago. There is greater competition.
"The first step in launching our firm was the writing of the first advertisement Here it is a single inch ad that ran in a small list of mail order papers. Now we use full page ads in a large list in preferred position on the outside cover when we can get it. Both Mr. Bullock and I had had experience with a house selling bicycles by mail and we thought that we knew how to go to work to advertise this proposition It seemed that good results could be secured in mediums outside the mail order papers magazines farm journals and so forth. We’ve tried them all only to come back to the mailorder journals as a permanent medium.
"What makes them so? Well they bring replies at the lowest cost. The publications like Comfort, the Ellis list, Vickery & Hill list, Sawyer list, Woman's Magazine, Lupton's papers, etc., have a monthly circulation of at least 10 000.000 copies. That means 50 000,000 readers. Now it seems inconsistent to say that none of the magazines reach this clientele more than half the people in the United States in paying quantities so far as our own proposition is concerned. Yet it is so. We’ve spent good money to find out. There must he a good deal of duplication in the circulation of the mail order papers but I figure that they have at least 10,000,000 readers with no duplication Many of these readers take magazines farm papers religious papers etc. Yet when they consider a mail order proposition they seem to turn to the mail order papers alone.
"We tried monthly magazines - McClure's, Everybody's, Cosmopolitan, and others. McClure's brought the greatest number of replies but even that was too costly - replies cost three times what we got them for in the mail order papers. We tried the farm papers and religious press too with the same results You’d think the farm papers would reach much the same class as the mail order journals wouldn’t you But they don’t.
"Ours is a working proposition rather than a selling one. It appeals to people who have more time than money and who will act as local agents for our goods. Our agents are nearly all located in villages and small towns not in cities or on farms. The magazines go into cities and the agricultural papers to farms so they both miss our natural clientele. The religious papers were least profitable of all. Nine tenths of our agents are women. More than three fourths of our business is east of Chicago and nearly nine tenths east of the Mississippi River. Practically all of it comes from north of the Ohio River. We look with a little distrust on inquiries from the South as the class of people who make the best agents will not canvass down there.
"Among the mail order journals we have got the best returns from the Lupton publications. Their rate is a trifle high but we get into good company. The kind of advertisers in a mail order paper must be considered in advertising an honest enduring proposition. Most of these publications have weeded out the swindlers and the swindler is being weeded out naturally because the profits on swindling advertisements are growing less year by year. You can’t swindle a reader more than once you know and profit lies only in lasting business relation. A few of the mail order papers we avoid however just because our advertising would appear in bad company.
"McCall's Magazine has proved an exception to the general rule that mail papers are our only medium. We use page ads on the cover and get good returns I should class it as excellent. Another good medium that cannot be classed in the mail order field is the Ladies World. It brings us very fair returns. The Farm Journal of Philadelphia is good too as it goes into towns and villages and has a much larger circulation than any other farm paper.
"Our business has a distinct season for advertising. Agents sell our goods all the year round and are perhaps a little more active in summer than during cold weather. But it pays to slack up on advertising in the summer months because advertisements are not so thoroughly read. People are working in their gardens and living outdoors. Not so much reading is done. Replies cost us just about twice as much in summer as in winter. But when a good organization of agents has been built up in winter it goes right on producing business.
"There is a percentage of loss in our business through dishonest agents for we are liberal in extending credit. But it is very small - much less than with the old trust idea. By demanding references we get honest agents. On the whole people are more disposed to be honest than dishonest."