30 Dollars down and the rest in easy monthly payments
That is generally what the advertisements in the newspapers and on radio said.
I remember my father only buying on new TV set, a portable. Well that is what they called them but even with the plastic case and handle it was heavy. All the others were used. Either from a TV store or one he got from a friends or co worker or some such.
Before WWII most American products were pretty well made. In fact it was not uncommon for them to last 20 years or more. Radios were well designed and had fancy wooden cabinets. Some were big console models with large speakers and fancy looking dials and even station presets. The smaller ones were well made. Even the cars were built well and there were a number of high end touring modes such as Packard, Cord, Deusenberg, LaSalle. Fords were know for there craftsmanship too.
The depression of the 1930s forced a number of these out of business but a few remained, such as Packard and Hudson. During the war all consumer production stopped and all factories produced for the war effort.
After the war consumer production geared back up and to meet the demand for housing, developments like Levittown began to spring up. Small cheap houses on small lots thrown up almost overnight. Television was the big thing and to meet that demand and for those of more modest means, people like Muntz began producing televisions and offering them with installment purchase plans. Television sets were still very expensive and most could not afford to own one otherwise.
Other companies followed suit and began offering cheap televisions and other suburban developments began to spring up and it all sold like hotcakes. Cheap appliances and cheap housing and even cheap cars were the order of the day.
All this was not lost on the Japanese and Germans, who after the war were looking for new markets. American manufactures were cheapening there products to compete with each other and the American consumer was just fine with that. Now they also began to have cheap Japanese goods to choose from as well. Portable transistor radios at first, then stores like Montgomery Wards and WT Grants and other smaller discount centers began to offer their own Japanese goods. And nearly everyone had some sort of credit plan.
The German VW was the first inexpensive import to show up in any quantity followed by the Nissan brand Datson and then Toyota. But their market wasn’t the WWII vets but the vet’s kids. The baby boomer generation.
Unlike most of their parents, these baby boomers had college educations and were making more money and had bigger and fancier appetites. When they began to have families is when the credit card industry began to take off. What ever you wanted you could get with a credit card. Gated communities took the place of Levittowns, fancy cars too the place of the VW and the religion of more and consumerism was installed throughout the land under the church of easy credit. And consume we did.
But it was a false religion and soon failed as the free-market street preacher folded up his tent and left town. Leaving the residents to clean up the mess. But like the cheap TVs that broke in a year or two and cheap cars that began to leak oil and the cheap houses that began to fall apart, the economy built on this began to spring leaks as well.
Where even the high paying jobs were shipped overseas and the lower paying jobs just vanished. All leaving the consumers and populace like a drug addict needing a fix but with no connection in sight.
Now the country resembles the big empty mall just down the street. No stores just one great big empty.