Burridge's Grocery Store, Miramar, Wellington 1948
One of the reasons that grocers and greengrocers (see previous posts) were able to maintain such an orderly arrangement of their wares was to bar the customers from hands-on contact with the merchandise. There was to be no squeezing of the plums and tapping or sounding of the watermelon, not even a caressing of a jar of raspberry jam or even a can of baked beans, thank you very much!
Hard to imagine that today's customers would tolerate for a minute being separated from their prospective purchases. Counters would be stormed, food riots would ensue if the punters couldn't read the nutrition labels, fondle the packages etc.
I vaguely recall memories as a young child of being in the premises of a store like Burridge's grocery pictured above. Smith's grocery store, I believe it was called - after Mr Smith, of course. It was a Four Square store, I think, a grocery cooperative chain but with individual stores owned by proprietors.
I recall a long counter, not so much light as in Burridge's, the smell of flour and other food items, hardwood floors, and a wooden chair or two next to the counter on the customer's side, presumably for housewives to rest their shopping bag upon or to pop a small child on for a moment or two while groceries were ordered and placed on the counter and the total tabulated. Men in white full length aprons waited upon the customers, mainly housewives. I must have been small because the memory of the counter is that it was high!
Soon the first supermarket opened down the street and Smith's in a very short time was no more. Fickle customers. The corner dairy across the street, however, survived for decades afterwards because the supermarket didn't keep the "open all hours" schedule of a corner store. Not until a change in the shop trading hours laws occurred in the 1980s, anyway.
Four Square Jigsaw Puzzle Cover circa 1950s
Some of the groceries offered for sale by Four Square grocery stores in the 1950s. Brands such as Weet Bix, Milo, and Pam's survive down to the present, but the packages are brighter, more alluring, and on-so modern...