This blog is about the story of my family here in America. We arrived in the 1630s as Puritans, and became the common folk of the New World.

Old expressions - what cash and carry means

In my lifetime, whenever I have gone into a store, I have paid for the item right then and there and have taken it away with me. If you can't imagine anything but that, I understand. Our ancestors, however, had to be convinced of the idea. 100 years ago, cash and carry was unheard of.

Before the introduction of *cash and carry*, our ancestors would go to a store, order what they wanted, without paying anything right then, and walk away without taking anything with them. It seems kind of strange, but this is how it worked:

Items were always purchased on store credit. That is, when you walked into a store, they would write down what you ordered. This was called a *tab*. At the end of the month, or when your crops came in, or when you could, you paid your bill. Sometimes you just paid a little when you could. And there were no shopping carts or pickup trucks parked in the parking lot. Delivery was always included in the price. As a general rule, grocery stores hired young men who would go deliver the merchandise. But at about mid-century here in America, merchants wanted to try a new idea.

Instead of supplying free credit and free delivery to their customers, they offered discount pricing. Cash and carry just meant that you paid for your merchandise right then and there, and you carried it home with you, the way we do now. This idea caught on, as it saved the merchant a lot of money, both in carrying charges and unpaid bills, and also paying for delivery. And the look of stores started to change.

A cash and carry store allowed the customer to do more than just walk up to a counter and ask for something. They were free to walk around the store and pick things up. Yes, there was still someone in the store to offer guidance, but they no longer were the ones who gathered things up. The customer now did this. As you can imagine, this freed up a lot of man hours and required less in the way of hired help. The clerk working at a Cash and Carry became more of a consultant, not just an errand-person gathering things off of shelves.

This idea became so successful that it wiped out the old system. And if you knew nothing about the old system, that's why.
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