The supermarket is one of the things that society takes most for granted, and while they somewhat lack the charm of a small business for specific areas of groceries (e.g. bakers, butchers, fruit stalls, etc.), they are by far the most popular method of purchase with consumers, due to their lower prices, higher product range, and an ‘all-in-one’ feel to the location. Giants in the industry such as Wal-Mart (USA), and Tesco (UK) are always branching out into new ventures (banking, electronics, insurance, etc.) to expand their circle of operations, and it is tough to imagine that there was once a time where such a concept did not exist. So who first came up with the idea of a multi-purpose shop?
95 years ago, to go shopping, a person would either buy their specific groceries from a specialised shop (e.g. bakers), or visit a ‘retail store’, in which a customer would list the items they want before an assistant collected them from a storage room or behind-counter shelf. 1916 would be the year to revoloutionise this concept, though, after Clarence Sanders, a local grocer who had moved to Memphis (USA) looking for a more efficient way to run this type of business, would create the concept of a ‘self-service’ store. Putting his money where his mouth was, he would create the first business of its kind, ‘Piggly Wiggly’ (which still runs today as a franchise). This would lead to several patents awarded to Sanders for his concepts used on the first-ever Piggly Wiggly store alone.
The concept of self-service shopping would catch on fast, and the supermarket was also said to be responsible for the breakout of brand power, with users now identified more with companies who make products now that they have a choice (pre-supermarket ‘retail stores’ would not have this kind of situation, as the customer would not actually see the name of the company that made the product). For Sanders, who passed away in 1953, the supermarket would be the first of several concepts he was patented with (such as ‘keedoozle’ (a larger, manned version of modern-day vending machines), and a self-service checkout (‘foodelectric’) (which is seeing an increasing emergence in newer supermarkets)), and is seen now as a character who was way ahead of his time in his way of thinking.
Today, supermarkets are the primary method of all retail, and with the concept so popular, it was only natural that a gameshow was made of it. Here are some highlights of a format