Grit Blogs > Country at Heart

The Old-Fashioned Rolling Store

Arkansas GirlRecently, I read an article in a magazine about entrepreneurs who sell their products or services by using catering trucks or mobile businesses - stores on wheels. This type of business is referred to as a new venture for business persons. Perhaps the person who penned that article thinks this is a new twist on selling. When I thought about it for a while, I realized that as the old saying goes, "There's nothing new under the sun." That's when it dawned on me about what we old-timers called the "Rolling Store."

I have no idea when "rolling stores" came into existence, but I can imagine that as far back as humans could "cart" something around to sell, we've had those kinds of mobile stores, even before the wheels came along. At the beginning of time, men, no doubt, walked and carried their wares by hand or on their backs; then, they probably pushed wheel barrows or rode horses, and then they probably graduated to horses/buggies, and then to wagons, to sell whatever they had.

Now, what was the rolling store? It was actually an old pickup truck with a camper- type enclosure on the back and a fold-down tailgate. From what I remember, this man's truck was more than a few years old and looked like it was on "it's last leg," but he made it to where he needed to go. 

To my knowledge, the "Rolling Store" only went to rural areas where housewives couldn't and didn't go into town much. However, when I was a kid, women did travel a bit more than their mothers and grandmothers. Homemakers did go to town, but it was a rare trip and almost always a special treat. So apparently, the mobile store driver went to every house where a road or a trail led him. This was obviously his version of "taking the store to the customer." And from what I saw, he did a good job of finding every nook and cranny where his truck would fit.

You've probably seen some of those old TV shows of the country peddler. He had pots and pans and some of everything else (that he thought country folks needed or wanted). hanging all off his truck

What did he have on his truck? Can't tell you exactly, but I know he had candy, and that was all I cared about.

"Mr. Rolling Store" man came around every so often - how often, I can't tell you that either. All I know is that he would just pop up, and Mother would scurry around the house gathering money to buy something from him. When salesmen came to our house (back then), we felt obligated to buy something from them. Not so much that we needed anything but it was the fact that they brought goods to our doorstep, so to speak, and because they did it for a living, we supported them. And, to me, those are good enough reasons for us to part with our hard-earned money.

I was always curious as to where "Mr. Rolling Store" man came from. I never heard anyone speak of him, so I assume he wasn't from our "neck of the woods." But anyway, when he came rolling up, that was the highlight of my day - and especially if Mother had enough money for some penny suckers...the sweet kind that you eat.