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About Heppner gazette-times. (Heppner, Or.) 1925-current | View Entire Issue (April 24, 1930)
HEPPNER GAZETTE TIMES. HEPPNER, OREGON,- THURSDAY, APRIL 24, 1930.
Independents Helped Thru
Study of Chain Store
By CALEB JOHNSON.
What are the facts about the
chain store situation?
There is no other subject on
which so much conversation is spill
ed, most of it highly colored, if not
violent. But most of the argument
is based on incomplete knowledge
of the facts.
What are the facts about the
chain stores? Are they dominating
the retail business of the nation?
Are they likely to dominate it? Is
the day of the independent merch
ant over? Those and all the other
questions which center around the
chain store situation can only be
answered when all the facts have
Who is going to gather the facts?
The chain store interests present
one set of statements which they
regard as the facts, the defenders of
the independent dealers present an
other set which they call the facts.
There is only one impartial organi
zation which has an interest in the
subject and the facilities for finding
out all the facts and presenting
them in their proper relation to
That organization is the Federal
Government, and finding out the
facts about the chain store "men
ace" is exactly what the Govern
ment is doing through the Federal
Trade Commission and the Depart
ment of Commerce.
The Federal Trade Commission is
primarily concerned with unfair
business practices. When it has
completed its nation-wide survey,
now under way, we shall know just
how much the element of unfair
ness, price-cutting below cost and
similar practices enter into the
chain store situation. In the mean
time, the Department of Commerce
has made extensive and intensive
studies of chain store methods and
those of the thousands of indepen
dent merchants, and has found out
many of the reasons why chain
stores succeed when independents
And this is the important part of
it the Department of Commerce is
not only willing but anxious to show
any retail merchant, who is threat
ened by chain-store competition,
how he can compete with the chain
For the Government at Washing
ton is definitely the friend of the
"He is, as a rule, an integral part
of his community or neighborhood,"
savs Dr. Julius Klein, Assistant
Secretary of Commerce, who has
personally directed much of the
Governmental research into the
chain store situation. "He knows
his patrons not only as customers
but as people; he is familiar with
their circumstances, their likes and
dislikes, their well-grounded prefer
ences and their capricious whims.
In his store, therefore, he greets
them in a spirit of old-established
friendliness. So he has that intan
gible but invaluable quality that we
may call 'the personal touch.' There
is a psycho'ogieal asset here that
every independent retailer should
realize and justly prize."
On another occasion Dr. Klein.
speaking on independent merchants,
"They are, after all, the backbone
of the American business organism.
On their diligent but unpretentious
activity the whole commercial struc
ture of the nation rests. Most of
them do not belong to chambers of
commerce or trade associations, few
of them read trade papers or attend
business conventions. They are just
plain business men, citizens, taxpay
ers. But they, more than any other
single element in our business com
munity, are most constantly, regu
larly and intimately in contact with
the great army of consumers. Even
those who fail are important factors
while they survive, inconspicuous
though they may be as individuals.
Through them the manufacturer
and producer has his only contact
with the consumer in almost every
class and kind of merchandise."
That is the spirit in which Wash
ington is taking up the chain store
situation. And here are some of the
facts they have found out already.
Only 15 percent of the retail bus
iness of the United States is done
by chain stores, even when the term
"chain" is used to mean two stores
under one management.
Only percent of the nation's
retail business is done by the mail
Only 2 percent of retail sales are
made by house-to-house canvassers.
Company stores and consumers'
cooperative stores do 2Vi percent of
The remaining 77 3-4 percent of
all the retail trade of the United
States is done by independent mer
chants dealing in general merchan
dise or special lines.
So far, then, the chain store has
not put the independent merchant
out of business. And there is a de
cided belief among Government of
ficials who are looking into the mat
ter that the chain store movement
has reached its peak and that the
tide is turning in the other direction.
All that the .chain store offers
which any independent retailer can
not offer are lower prices for cash
and better merchandising meth
ods. Starting from that point, the
Government's researches have been
in the direction of discovering why
the independent merchant cannot
compete on prices, and why mer
chandising methods which have
made the chain stores generally sue
cessful cannot be adopted by any
The answer to both questions is
that the independent merchant can
compete with the chain store on
both points, and the Government at
Washington stands ready to show
him how to do it.
It is increasingly easier for the
independent grocer, for example, to
carry a small stock and replenish
his shelves quickly, thus getting the
benefit of fresh goods and quick
turnover, which is one of the strong
points of chain-store merchandising.
Some of the largest grocery chains
have established their own factor
ies and bakeries, leaving great in
dustries out in the cold so far as
the chain-store market is concerned.
This is a serious matter for many
large manufacturers and packers of
grocery products, and two or three
of the recent mergers on a national
scale in the foodstuff industry have
had their genesis in this situation.
These new combinations are ao-
tively cultivating the independent
grocery trade. They offer him the
same facilities of prompt delivery
that the competing chain store en
joys, the same or better credit, and
competitive prices, with the added
advantage of enabling him to sell
That is a purely economic devel
opment of the situation. It Is
spreading rapidly, and in some in
stances is being backed up by fin
ancial aid to the undercapitalized
retailer who in other respects has
the making of a successful merchant.
But capital and goods are not suf
ficient ammunition with which to
compete with the chain store, the
Government's researches have dis
closed. It takes expert knowledge
of market and merchandising.
Those the chain store supply
through its central organization of
experts. The local retailer who
would compete with the chain store
must arm himself with the same
kind of expert knowledge, and that
is precisely what the Government Is
prepared to furnish him.
Without attempting to go into de
tails here, the facts which the Fed
eral Government has collected and
which it is already to place at the
disposal of any merchant, cover the
whole field of retail merchandising.
How to determine the extent of the
local market for any class of com
modities, how to pick the right lo
cation for a store, select and replen
ish that stock to the best advan
tage, how to display the stock both
inside the store and in the show
windows, how to advertise, what
sort of accounts to keep and how
to keep them, how much capital
should be available for a retail store
of any kind in a community of any
size, how that capital should be pro
portioned between merchandise and
reserve, how much credit a busi
ness of a given volume is entitled
to, how expenses should be appor
tioned between rent, help and other
items those and many other facts
not guesses or estimates but facts
based upon actual investigation and
thorough study of thousands of suc
cessful and unsuccessful retail bus
inesses, independent and chain, in
many different parts of the United
In other words, all the expert
knowledge which makes the chain
store a more efficient merchandis
ing institution than the general run
of independent retailers are, has
been collected and is still being
gathered at Washington, analyzed,
surveyed in its proper proportions
and made available to every mer
chant who seriously wishes to com
pete with the chain store, instead of
merely grouching about it.
The independent retailer who
wants this Government assistance
can get it by merely writing to the
Domestic Commerce Division, De
partment of Commerce, Washing
ton, D. C. And any local business
association which is in earnest in
wanting to improve the local retail
situation can call on the Govern
ment for an expert adviser to sur
vey their field and tell them how
to do things differently and more
SALESMEN WANTED To run
Heberling business in Morrow
County. Many make $60 to $75
weekly year around work no lay
off. Write today for free booklet.
G. C. HEBERLING COMPANY,
Dept. 1836, Bloomington, 111. 5-6.
For County Assessor
To the Republican Voters of
I hereby announce myself a candidate
for the office of County Assessor at the com
ing primaries. If nominated and elected I
promise to serve the people of Morrow
County to the best of my ability.
FRANK W. TURNER.
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