Village shops and country stores

Authored by: Douglas McCalla

The Routledge Companion to the History of Retailing

Print publication date:  November  2018
Online publication date:  November  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138675087
eBook ISBN: 9781315560854
Adobe ISBN:


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This essay addresses village shopkeeping under five headings: goods, shopping, credit, management and “continuity and change”. It begins with goods because stocking and selling products from beyond its locality were the shop’s central role (although that could be combined with other local business). Shopping involved choosing what to buy, and where; for the latter, the village shop’s proximity was an essential advantage. A purchase did not complete a transaction, however; sales were made on credit, and collecting debts due was a constant concern for the shopkeeper. The section on management emphasises that retailing was competitive, and that success depended on knowledge, work and enterprise. A concluding section considers village shops’ adaptations to the changing context for rural retailing, at least in western society, from about the middle of the nineteenth century. Shops continued to secure a share of their neighbours’ custom for another century, until many of the forces sustaining village economic life shifted decisively.

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