: New: Book Report: The Great A&P

A surprisingly interesting story about selling food in the USA, featuring lots of government regulation. I said "surprisingly", right?

The story of the USA's first big chain store, the food merchant A&P. At a time when chain stores were rare and families bought food from mom & pop bodegas, the A&P grew and grew until you could say, 1/7 food dollars in such-and-such city were spent at A&P stores. They were big enough such that they could bypass warehouse and broker middlemen, going right to food producers; that helped squeezed down prices. They were big enough such that they could ask for big discounts, some of which were legal but some of which were darned sketchy. At various times, they drew government ire and/or investigations, which overlooked the sketchy stuff and tended to try to punish the company for useful things the company did.

Computer programmer nerds might be interested to learn that "Hello, world!" was the catchphrase of radio host/demagogue William Kennon Henderson of KWKH. He got listeners to send him money by (a) saying unironically that chain stores are evil, (b) asking folks to send him money so he could do something against chain stores. He spent that money getting himself out of debt from his past sketchy schemes.

Tags: book politics

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