The Local Green Grocer
At 9 years old one of our grandchildren asked, “what changes in shopping have taken place in your lifetime”, where to start, we asked ourselves. This was a homework project.
First of all, we had our friendly local grocery shops, a butcher, a hairdresser and maybe a chemist. Looking back, we were well catered for as we had quite a few in our suburb.
Entertainment While Shopping
Buying butter was an entertainment in itself.
My sister and I often had to go to a favourite family grocer close by. We were always polite as we asked for a pound or two of butter and other small items. Out came a big block of wet butter wrapped in greaseproof paper. Brought from the back of the shop, placed on a huge counter top and included two grooved pates.
Our old friendly Mr. Mahon with the moustache, would cut a square of butter. Lift it to another piece of greaseproof paper with his pates. On it went to the weighing scales, a bit sliced off or added here and there. Our old grocer would then bash it with gusto, turning it over and over. Upside down and sideways it went, so that it had grooves from the pates, splashes going everywhere, including our faces.
My sister and I thought this was great fun and it always cracked us up. We loved this, as we loved Mahon’s, on the corner, our very favourite grocery shop.
Mr. Mc Kessie’s Grocer Shop
Further afield, we often had to go to another of my mother’s favourite grocers. Mr. McKessie, ( spelt phonetically) would take our list, gather the groceries and put them all in a big cardboard box. And because we were good customers he always delivered them to our house free of charge. But he wasn’t nearly as much fun as old Mr. Mahon. Even so, he was a nice man.
All Things Fresh
So there were very many common services such as home deliveries like:
• Farm eggs
• Fresh vegetables
• Cow’s milk
• Freshly baked bread
• Coal for our open fires
Mr. Higgins, a service man from the Hoover Company always came to our house to replace our old vaccum cleaner with an updated model. Our insurance company even sent a man to collect the weekly premium.
People then only paid for their shopping with cash. In some department stores there was a system whereby the money from the cash registers was transported in a small cylinder on a moving wire track to the central office.
Some Of The Bigger Changes
• Supermarkets replaced many individual smaller grocery shops. Cash and bank cheques have given way to credit and key cards.
• Internet shopping…the latest trend, but in many minds, doing more harm, to book shops.
• Not many written shopping lists, because mobile phones have taken over.
So, no one really has to leave home, to purchase almost anything, it can all be done online.
And we have a much bigger range of products now, to choose from, and credit cards have given us the greatest ease of payment. We have longer shopping hours, and weekend shopping. But we have lost the personal service that we oldies had taken for granted and also appreciated.
Because of their frenetic lifestyles, I have heard people say they find shopping very stressful , that is grocery shopping.