Shopping in Earlier Times (1900s-1940s)
In the early 1900s, going to the general store such as H.C. Phelps General Store and Anderson’s Store (just east of Mitchell Rd. on Ridge Rd.) would mean you could buy not only staple goods, such as flour, sugar, and canned goods but also kerosene, shoes, baskets, and hardware. You might even pick up your mail and give the tag-along-kids a couple of coins for the penny candy counter. Soon general hardware stores began to take over that part of the general store.
The Phelps Store and Ridge Road Food Store now concentrated on groceries, fresh fruit, and vegetables.
The view of children buying a quart of milk pretty well gives you a glimpse of a grocery store in the late 1920s or early 1930s. Most of the items are behind the counter for the clerk to get for the customer. A long pole with a clamp on the end retrieved items from the top shelf or a narrow ladder attached to a track ran the length of the shelves. The clerks were very agile and got plenty of exercise on busy days. The owner might man the cash register. In the larger stores, the cashier might be behind a slightly raised, caged booth and take the cash, make change, and stamp the receipt paid. Many stores had a sign that read, Cash Only – No Credit. But that was often amended if you were known by the grocer and deemed trustworthy.
A credit balance could be carried and paid at the end of the week or month.
As the 1930s progressed, hard times made it difficult for the smaller stores to hang on. Gradually chain stores, such as The Red and White, appeared along with the A & P or the local Hart’s Stores (with their redeemable coupons). One of the favorite premiums was the orange and black Hart’s cart, available in two styles: the one with removable delivery wagon sides or the rounded corners sturdy model preferred by boys. Mom did a lot of shopping at Hart’s to add up enough coupons for one of those.
As the 1930s folded into the 1940s pioneer “almost supermarkets” began to appear, but the local markets such as Reichenberger’s had expanded from just a meat market to a full-fledged grocery. Along with McBride’s and several other stores, they served the Barnard area well for many years. Cooper’s Deli-Grocery and Service Station on Dewey near the city line, operated by the well-known Norman Cooper, preceded our present drive-by and 7-Eleven convenience stores. A similar operation was the Wind Mill Grocery and Gas Station at the northeast corner of Latta and Long Pond Roads.
This is just a small sampling of the many smaller stores that once dotted the Greece area seventy to ninety years ago.
Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Historian’s Office.