Thursday, December 6, 2012

The Want Advertiser

Long before Craigs List and even the internet there was the Want Advertiser. A weekly magazine listing everything for sale.
People made money from the "Want Ads" Buy and sell, the magazine would hit the stands every Thursday morning and by noon, everything worth buying was ether sold or being dealt with.
My weekly plan back in the early 70's was to ride to the Maugus Restaurant in Wellesly Ma. and buy the just received magazine next door. While waiting for my breakfast, I would use the phone on the wall to call folks that had posted ads of Raleigh Sports or DL-1's.
After contacting the seller, I would then ask 3 simple questions about the bicycle:
What color is it, is the seat made out of leather and is it a girls or a boys bike.
Most sellers had no idea what size or year it was. The best part of the magazine was that you never saw any Raleigh Sports listed for more then $50.00. Most Sports would be listed for around $35.00. High for the times, it was hard to find any used bicycle listed for anything more then $100.
After deciding if the bike was worth the trip to see it, I would make arrangements to go get it, arranging with the seller to be home when I get there and for me to have cash in hand. At of a time of no ATM's or cell phones, it was no simple feat.
Traveling by bicycle, I would need the tools and the pack to carry the bicycle home. Never was the bicycle any further distance then Worcester. It was a time when bicycles were not allowed on the train. The broken down bike was carried on the my back and bike sometimes as far as 35 miles home to my shop.
A refurbished Raleigh at that time could bring as much as $100 when sold to Harvard or MIT students as transportation. I could turn as many as 2 bicycles a week and with only having to pay $45.00 a month for rent of my room in my Cambridgeport apartment, after the cost of parts, $125.00 was a good weekly wage.
Over time I found some great old bikes that to this day I still own. Getting leads from other riders was a great source of British Roadsters, but the Want Ad was by far, the most dependable source for a weekly supply used Raleighs.

The Want Advertiser went out of business in October of 2008. The magazine that allowed sellers to post their ad and pay by the honor system closed its doors for good. Another business closes its doors because of we now know and love, the internet.

1939 Raleigh DL-1, $30.00 It came with the catalog and a hand written letter from the second owner to the third. I was the forth.


  1. lovely post. i miss those days. we rode bikes from the dump and abandoned bikes left by graduating college students. rarely even had to pay for them.

  2. Nothing like a free and unusual bicycle. It sometime seems strange how I ended up with some of the bikes I have and love that would have otherwise been sent to the crusher. Almost like it was meant to be.