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A Day in the Life of a Shop Owner in the 1950s

Sep 10, 2014

A Scene of the 1950s

In the early 1950s, the shopping scene was much different from the operations of store owners of today. The way people lived was changing, in part because:

  • The television was a new and powerful way of exposing Americans to an "ideal lifestyle" through tv programs. This led to the desire to mimic the lifestyles portrayed on these tv shows.
  • More and more people had access to automobiles, and new highways were constructed.
  • Much of the population moved into new, low-cost development areas, allowing the birth of suburbs.
  • The rise of shopping centers contributed to people being able to get more shops and services without needing to travel into the big cities.
  • Credit cards were invented, gaining popularity and use through the 50s. This was leading people to a “buy now, pay later” mentality.

Shop in the 50sA Day in the Life

Let’s look at a day in the life of a retail shop owner in the 50s. Let’s say our owner is named Jim. Jim owns an appliance store in a shopping center in rapidly expanding Miami, Florida. Business was good as people were seeing the new appliances in the television programs and wanted to achieve this new standard of living.

Jim would come in early to start the day by accounting for his inventory and figuring the number of toasters, refrigerators, and washing machines he would need to re-order soon. This was done by walking through the showroom and the back room where the rest of his inventory was stocked. Jim would then check the sales data from the previous week since the last shipment had come in and then check the cash register to find out how much cash he was starting the day out with. Once completed with his rounds, the time would come to open his doors.

Cash and checks were the gold standard as Jim had gotten into the industry, but credit cards were the new payment method with which he was becoming well acquainted. Charging for products was becoming the norm during Jim’s era, and he was able to take advantage of this because more people were able to buy his expensive appliances than ever before. Jim would keep track of his sales and new orders in his logs. At the end of the day, Jim would have to add up the cash in his cash register, the checks, and the credit card payments with which the customers had paid with. Keeping track of the income for the day with the accounting skills that he would have had to know, Jim would deposit the money at the bank and go on his merry way.

Back in 2014…

Looking back on this time period, we can realize the changes in the economy and the way that society functions today. Similar to the leaps that credit cards made on the shopping experience, we as a people have made many advancements in technology that are game-changers. Our appliance store owner had many hats to wear and jobs to do throughout the day. Technology allows many of those barriers that Jim had to deal with to become smaller. With modern technology, shop owners can now rely on different operating systems to take care of the day-to-day business while they have the opportunity to focus on what they truly excel at: selling their products.

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