Owen Sound & District Chamber of Commerce publication Outlook. Fall 2020 edition

I’M JUST SAYING Businesses - by the very nature of what they do, they sell themselves; they ultimately sell a product, a service, an idea, but in the end, something is generally sold. With apologies to print and electronic media, and all the marvellous forays into social media, when Owen Sound became a city 100 years ago, and for sixty years thereafter, the very best tool was a slim, printed strip of cardboard, a matchbook. The matchbook, before the bans on smoking, was ubiquitous. No matter what your business in Owen Sound, your matchbook could most likely be found in the pockets of folks right across the city and beyond. The marketers convincing firms to buy Eddy Matches, or Diamond, Lion, Universal or any of the competing makers all told you the same thing -- people leaving your establishment with your matchbook would be leaving with “20 little salesmen”, the number of matches stapled into that slim, folded strip of cardboard, the one with your name on it, the one used repeatedly and passed around. There was hardly a business in Owen Sound that did not offer matches at the front door -- from William Taylor Bottlers, to Graham’s Dairy, to Dominion Motors to Andy Gamble’s Dry Cleaners, to the Olympia, Trio, Scopis and Alps Restaurants. Take just one street address, 994 2nd Avenue East; the matchbooks still exist for at least a half-dozen businesses there down the years…Manjuris Smoke Shop, Dutch Colony Convenience Store, Henry’s Restaurants, Louis’ Restaurant, Pizzaville….but why? Why are they still around?

It’s pretty simple - someone didn’t throw them out. Someone saved them. Someone collected them. And it happened to the various matchbooks of Art Mills Barber Shop and Mel Maidment’s Service Station, The Erie Belle -- and the list goes on. As Owen Sound celebrates its 100th birthday, we know that our moms and dads are getting older -- and we’re getting older. One of the many words associated with all that is Matchbooks Reflect History “downsizing” a word I find a bit ugly in this context. But it means that in the attic, in the basement, out in the shed or garage, is an old Summerfolk poster, some old Grey’s and Mercury’s and Downtowners programmes, that old Homecoming button, the OSCVI yearbook, photos, pins, stickers and yes, a bag or jar of old matchbooks…..the detritus of lives happily lived in The Scenic City. Individually, they may seem insignificant, tired, and of no further value. But take those thin little strips of cardboard. Collectively, they tell a history of the city, a business history, a community history. They do so because someone in Owen Sound’s first hundred years as a city just didn’t throw something out. The folks planning # 200 in 2120 are going to want to know who you were and what you did, trust me on that. Please, make it easy for them. From James Joyce: “I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today.” Happy birthday, City of Owen Sound!


 A hot collection: Matchbook enthusiasts gather in Springfield for convention

August 17, 2017: The State Journal-Register (IL) had a nice article on the RMS Convention in Springfield. Joe DeGennaro and Charlie Specht were interviewed, giving some hobby history, demographics and the present circumstances in the hobby.

The News-Gazette, IL, July 16, 2016: The RMS Convention coming up in August, received some nice pre-convention publicity. Author Bob Swisher covered the basics of the convention, but the article neglected to give readers the hotel name and location in Springfield.

Back to RMS Home Page