business news in context, analysis with attitude

Love this story, told by MNB reader Steve Ritchey:

With the new "advent" of home delivery, I can't help but think of the stories my Dad used to tell me about working in small town grocery stores in my home town from the mid thirties until his induction into the Army Air Corps in WWII.

He was a clerk in several small town stores in Plano, TX.  Plano was largely a farming community then.  Then a clerk did everything from stocking, running the counter, answering the phone, produce, and working as a butcher.

He told stories of the grocery store owners feed pens for livestock being where a large Home Depot is now, how he'd go to the pens to kill a steer or hog, skin and cut it into sides to take to the store to "break down" into it's component sections.  Yes, the owner raised and fed out his own beef and pork, plus traded for live chickens.  He also bought eggs and butter from local famers, milk however did come from a dairy processor.

He killed hogs, steers, chickens, butchered them and sold them.

He also delivered groceries.  Refrigeration wasn't widespread then, people had iceboxes, a wooden box with two compartments, one on the bottom for perishables that needed to be kept cold, another one up top that held a 50 pound block of ice.  So, many things got delivered on a daily basis.

You would be aghast at the sanitation in those days.  The delivery truck or "hoopy" as Dad said they called it, was an open bed truck with a rack over the bed to hang things from, like cans of kerosene.

Most houses didn't have electricity yet, so they used kerosene lanterns for lighting.  The cans of kerosene hung on the rack over the truck bed.  He said Kerosene would slosh out and onto cans, produce, meat wrapped in butcher paper, the whole chicken he'd just killed and dressed. Imagine eating that.

Remember, this was a 1930's era Ford Truck with almost no suspension, it literally rode like the proverbial "log wagon," not all the streets were paved either.

So, when I read and see grocery delivery services, I can't help but think of the stories he used to tell us.  How he'd drive that old Ford Model T truck around town going into people homes when they weren't home and putting groceries away for them.

I started in the business in 1976 and I've seen myriad changes. When I started, scanning technology was very, very new.  We still rang up groceries on electro-mechanical registers.  We still price marked everything.  But, it's kind of nice to see an old idea get new traction, even if people think it's a new concept, it's an old concept that's been dusted off and modernized to fit the times.



And, on another subject, from another MNB reader:

Amazon will never be unionized. End of story. Even with the Staten Island vote they will drag it out for years then call for another vote and by that time all the people that voted for the union will be gone . There will be another vote called and Amazon wins.  Bernie Sanders can yell and scream all he wants. Then will send him a free comb and he’ll go away. Once again Amazon will never be unionized. End of story.

You may be right.  To me, the larger question is whether they will address some of the issues being raised by workers (and even some politicians) in any meaningful way.