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Let's Rebuild Polk Brothers

Let's Rebuild Polk Brothers Advertising Busy Beaver Button Museum
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Let's Rebuild Polk Brothers back Advertising Busy Beaver Button Museum
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LET'S REBUILD, AMERICA IN THE 80'S POLK BROS
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Caricatured eagle with flag wings with white text on red and blue background.

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MANUFACTURED IN U.S.A. BY GREEN DUCK CORP. HERNANDO, MS. 38632 1-800-647-6168 union bug

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Founded in Chicago in 1935, Polk Brothers was a home appliances and electronics retailer that had seventeen branches across the city during its peak. The company was established by Sol Polk, who was the son of Romanian Jewish immigrants. It was famous for its “let’s make a deal” salesmen who were paired up with customers at the stores' entrances. In contrast to department stores, Polk Brothers offered steep discounts and advertised that it had the lowest prices anywhere—a slogan later borrowed by Wal-Mart. Sol Polk’s enthusiastic sales pitches garnered national attention, which led him to be invited to Capitol Hill for legislative and regulatory hearings. Interestingly, Polk Brothers was responsible for selling the first color televisions and microwave ovens. In spite of its early successes, the business became defunct in 1992 after a devastating fire ravaged its warehouse and headquarters in Melrose Park.

In 1981, Polk Brothers joined forces with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to launch a campaign that would inspire growth in American businesses. The initiative’s theme revolved around “Let’s Rebuild America in the ‘80s: We Can Do It Together.” To promote the campaign, Polk Brothers spent $25,000 on two-hundred billboards that read “Rebuild America,” which were posted throughout Chicago. Signs bearing the same slogan were also found in Polk Brothers’ stores, and the owner further contributed to the campaign by distributing 4,000 letters to suppliers to advertise the initiative. The campaign did not end until 1990.

Sources: 

Casuso, J. (1988, May 16). Sol Polk, co-founder of Polk Bros. stores. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1988-05-16-8803170514-story.html

Paden, A. (1997, January 19). Polk's promotion machine. Chicago Tribune. https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1997-01-19-9701190345-story.html

Catalog ID: 
AD0935
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