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James Dean On the Road:
A Warner Bros. Store in NJ

James Dean Postcard

I don't think the Postal Service employees or store salespeople at the Warner Bros. Studio Store in Paramus, NJ, on the James Dean first day, June 24, were ready for stamp collectors: There were no James Dean envelopes or picture postcards for sale, and they were surprised that I had brought my own. Instead, I was offered the opportunity to buy a $14.95 "folio" containing a poster, a sheetlet of 20 stamps, and a postcard. And I was told that special envelopes would be on sale the next day - the day after the first day. Already canceled.

Why the next day? They weren't entered into the cash register computer! One of the postal people says they tried to convince them to sell the envelopes on the first day, but Form Must Be Followed.

When I purchased a second sheetlet of 20, it was handed to me already canceled. Luckily, that's how I wanted that one. When I started to tear the selvage off the first sheet for my postcards, I thought I saw one of the clerks wince. And when I started to affix one of the singles to the face of the James Dean photocard to make a maximum, I was asked if I didn't really want to put it on the back.

Little Preparation

The purchasing process at the Paramus Park Mall store was a little weird, too. The small USPS table set up near the front of the store, near a rack of James Dean sweatshirts, with two clerks behind it. Standing next to it was a store clerk wearing white gloves. I paid for the first sheet of stamps, and she carried it further into the store to the register, where I paid for it, and was then permitted to carry it back to the USPS table. The postal clerks were not handling money.

The cancellation is a rectangle reading "Warner Bros. Studio Store / REBEL / WITHOUT A CAUSE / Station" plus a large double-ring which has today's date and "Paramus, NJ 07652" in it.

The clerks said they had already had quite a few sales about midway through the cancellation period. Paramus, NJ, window technician ("clerk") Lad Dizon, one of those staffing the USPS table at the store, estimated the following day that they had sold 140-150 sheets of the new stamp during the 5 hours they were there.

I'm told I was the only customer who brought his own special materials into the store for canceling (3 picture postcards). Some customers did go to the pharmacy in the Mall and buy plain white envelopes for first day covers, however. Had I had more notice myself, I would have brought some unserviced cacheted envelopes.

I returned to the Warner Bros. store the following Thursday, and purchased four of their special envelopes, already serviced, at $3 each plus tax (6% in Paramus). One hundred were prepared at that store. Unserviced envelopes were being offered at $2.50 each.

When attending first days in cities that have not had them before or for a long time, I have had the impressions that the postal clerks are not given much briefing on stamp collecting, stamp collectors or first day cover servicers. I'm sure the store clerks had even less preparation.

Well, at least they didn't try to fold the envelopes when I bought them!

Lloyd A. de Vries, Forum Manager

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