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Did you ever wonder why product sale prices end in a odd number?
Melville Stone was a self-made man, who worked his way up from newspaper carrier to publisher of the Chicago Daily News. When Stone first started his newspaper in 1875, the price was a penny. Circulation rose rapidly at first, then leveled off. Then sales started lagging. When Stone investigated why fewer people were buying his paper, he discovered the problem had nothing to do with its quality. Pennies were in short supply. Stone decided he had to do something.
First he traveled to the United States mint in Philadelphia and brought about the transfer of barrels of pennies to Chicago. The problem then became how to get the pennies into circulation. So Stone persuaded Chicago merchants to sponsor "odd-price sales," during which they would sell their merchandise for a penny under the regular price. The odd prices did the trick. People had pennies again, and Stone’s paper flourished. And that is why store items today cost "$8.99," or $12.99," instead of even dollar amounts.


The Emperor Who Ate the Bible: And More Strange Facts and Useless Information
by Scot Morris / Paperback: 164 pages / Doubleday; Reprint edition (October 1991)

A reference book of fun facts you never needed to know.
Why Didn't I Think of That (
This title is out of print.)
by Webb Garrison / Hardcover - 120 pages
(1977) / Prentice Hall / ISBN: 0139586032


A Penny For Your Thoughts
In the late 1800's all newspapers sold for a nickel. Melvin Stone thought there was a market for a penny paper. After appropriate market research and a trial issue, the new paper was launched.
Why do prices end in .99?
The practice bespeaks a certain low cunning, but it's also pretty obvious and trying to find out who invented it is like trying to find out who invented the hat.


  • Melville Stone founded the Chicago Daily News in the late 1800's (he also started the Associated Press)

Reference Sources in BOLD Type This page revised May 27, 2005.
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