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Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store

Melissa A. Hale

ProfessorMelissa A. Hale

CaseCast "What you need to know"

CaseCast –  "What you need to know"

Lefkowitz v. Great Minneapolis Surplus Store

Citation. 22 Ill.251 Minn. 188, 86 N.W.2d 689 (1957)
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Brief Fact Summary.

Defendant advertised the sale of three fur coats and three fur stoles for $1.00 a piece. The advertisement said “first come, first serve”. Plaintiff arrived at Defendant’s store wishing to buy the garments. Defendant refused, saying the sale was only for women.

Synopsis of Rule of Law.

An advertisement may be considered an offer when it promises something in exchange for clear, definite action, and leaves nothing open for negotiation. Otherwise, an advertisement is an invitation for an offer.


Defendant ran two newspaper advertisements, one stating that Defendant would sell three fur coats, valued at $100.00 a piece, first come, first served, and the other, stating that Defendant would sell three fur stoles, valued between $89.00 and $139.50 for one dollar a piece. Plaintiff arrived first on both occasions, and presented $3.00. Defendant refused to sell the items to Plaintiff, citing a “house rule” which limited the bargains to women.


Did Defendant’s advertisement constitute an offer?


Yes.  The advertisement clearly stated that Defendant would sell the fur garments at a definite price to the person who came first. Plaintiff arrived first, thus, accepted the offer.  The “house rule” was not mentioned in the advertisement. While offers can be modified, one cannot, after acceptance, impose new, arbitrary conditions.


The court held that a newspaper ad could be considered an offer under certain circumstances, particularly when the actions needed to accept the offer are clear. In this case, the advertisement was clear, definite, and leaves nothing to be left open for negotiation.

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