Sunday, July 19, 2009

Classified advertising: Colourful snapshot of cultures

THE time has come for some serious talk, and I'm not referring to our tax returns as we scramble to gather up all those crumbled receipts and download the e-tax files or check the Classifieds' tax agent listings.
They say two things are inevitable but even death and taxes must come second and third to another certainty - that is, classified advertising will touch everyone's life at some stage.
The marvellous community of classified advertising in local papers has been around for many generations and as it adapts to changing social trends it will still be with us far into the future. Nowadays, the Classifieds are a colourful snapshot of a glorious mix of cultures and interests that once reflected in a 'grey sea' of small type.

SOME years ago, when I began thinking about what classified advertising had meant to me I realised its profound significance in typical Australian family life. It wasn't unusual for our family to start the day with Dad, having already read the local paper, announcing at the breakfast table that someone we knew had died, or been engaged or married. Of course, Mum and Dad marked the arrival of all us kids in our local paper's classies - and when the years passed, all the engagements and marriages featured too. They also taught us to check the Public Notices for important information - maybe a road closure - and Dad would always advertise his business dates at holiday periods.

WHEN a teenager, I found my first guitar and car through the classifieds. At times over the years I relied on the rental columns to keep a roof over my head and when I was able to afford a mortgage I found my own home through a classified ad. My own kids resorted to the Pets column to find a dog that became very important in our family life. All this proves that the Classifieds represent much more than an assortment of sellers and buyers.

THE classies really can help you understand your world. A check on the Positions Vacant listings is always worthwhile, whether or not you are looking for work; if you're in business you can get a good idea, through the job notices, of what's happening in the local economy. But if you haven't window shopped through the classies for bargains you haven't experienced one of the greatest free entertainments.

AND, without the Garage Sale listings in the Times, Saturday in the Redlands would not be the fantastic day it is. Set your alarm for daybreak and join the treasure hunt. Maybe, we'll meet there tomorrow.

This column appeared in The Redland Times on Friday, July 17, 2009.

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