Chain Stores in America, 1859-1962

By Godfrey M. Lebhar | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
THERE OUGHT TO BE A LAW

THE HISTORY of retailing reveals that every innovation in distribution methods has been opposed by those fearful of its impact on the existing order. Department stores, mail-order houses, house-to-house sellers and, most recently, the supermarkets, each in turn ran into more or less organized opposition. Almost invariably the State legislatures were appealed to for special taxes or other restrictive measures designed to check the new method of distribution or to stop it altogether.1

But nothing of this kind ever approached in intensity or scope what the chains ran into. The rapidity of their growth between 1910 and 1920, coupled with the price-cutting which many of them practiced, made them the target for plenty of criticism from manufacturers, wholesalers and independent retailers, but no definite effort to check their progress other than indirectly seems to have been made before the early '20s.

True enough, the chain-store "menace" was given as one of the principal reasons for proposed legislation to end the predatory price-cutting evil, but nobody had gone so far as to suggest a more direct attack on the chains themselves.

In 1922, however, at the convention of the National Association of Retail Grocers at Los Angeles2 it was openly sug-

____________________
1
John P. Nichols, The Chain Store Tells Its Story ( Institute of Distribution, New York, 1940) p. 127.
2
See p. 124, supra.

-125-

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