The Rolling Store: The Old Fashioned Peddler

| 4/20/2015 8:56:00 AM

Country at HeartI 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. 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 the 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, there have been mobile stores, even before the wheels came along.

The rolling store that came to our neck of the woods was actually an old pickup truck with a camper-type enclosure on the back and a fold-down tailgate. This man's truck was more than a few years old and looked like it was on "its last leg," but apparently his four wheels took him where he needed to go.

The "Rolling Store" went to rural areas where housewives couldn't (and didn't) go into town much. However, when I was a child, women did travel a bit more than their mothers and grandmothers did. They did go to town, but it was a rare trip and almost always a special treat. So, 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 shoes and some of everything else (that he thought country folks needed or wanted) lodged on top of and hanging all off the sides of his truck.

Now, I can't tell you exactly what was in our mobile store, but I know there was candy, and that was all I cared about.

4/21/2015 6:01:32 PM

We had one in my community that came every Friday. We knew the driver and we're friends with him. He drove an old converted school bus with a fold down shelf that we would stand at in the door and order our candy. But my best memory of him was that, when my grandmother was at work, she would leave a list on her kitchen table, with a signed check. Mr. Davis would pull up in her driveway, go inside and get her list, fill it with all the items and then take them into her house. If she had perishables, he would put those in the frig. Then he would take the check and leave her a note about the amount of the check. He would leave, locking the door behind him. Such wonderful memories of a different place and time!

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