Working Towards Extinction

In this post at Insty’s  which discusses how San Francisco retailing is going down the rat-infested tubes, Stephen Green opines:

The future of shopping in America’s Democrat-run cities will eventually evolve into the Soviet model of paying a clerk first at one counter, then waiting for your goods to be delivered at the next counter. Shoppers won’t be allowed near any of the merchandise. But that’s what happens when you elect Soviet-minded politicians.

Our remaining advantage over the Soviet model is that enough of America still works that there are goods behind the counter.

So far.  But the Communists in the Democratic Socialist party are working hard to create the other reality — you know, the one where the State ends up owning the means of production and pretends to pay people while people pretend to work. [/Stalinism]


  1. Actually such stores have existed in the US before – – remember Service Merchandise stores? Their retail floor consisted of sample items only and empty boxes; one would select the merchandise that one wished to purchase, make the payment, then pick the merchandise up at a delivery aisle. There was also a catalog that one could use to find items one wished to purchase.

    1. I remember making 2 purchases at a Service Merchandise in Fort Myers, FL in July 1983.

      The 1st was a black Harmony Marquis 6 string acoustic guitar for $40.
      The 2nd was a engagement-wedding ring for $99.
      Still have both.

      The Harmony is sitting on a stand over there against the wall here in my home office and I still play it at least several times per week.

      The rings are in a jewelry box on my wife’s dresser where she put them about 15 years ago when her fingers got too skinny to wear them. Those rings are now 40 years old and we’ve been married for 39. I don’t play her several times weekly any more. 🙁

      You would get a small clipboard with pencil when entering the store. Walk around and look at the display merchandise and write the items code number on the clipboard. Turn the clipboard in and pay for the stuff. Move on down the line and your stuff showed up on a conveyor belt. Seemed like the wait for the conveyor was kinda long.

  2. According the history channel, all markets used to follow that format. you told the clerk at the counter what you wanted, and they would retrieve it from the stockroom in the back. then Clarence Saunders opened the first Piggly Wiggly on Sept. 11, 1916 in Memphis, Tenn. as the first select your own items off shelf market. He also invented the “Shopping Cart” So people could buy more items and not have to carry them all around.

    I still remember going to the market in Down east Maine well into the sixties where there was sawdust on the floor ( to absorb spills ) and the cashier added everything manually in pencil on your paper bag.

  3. > you know, the one where the State ends up owning the means of production and
    > pretends to pay people while people pretend to work.

    I don’t think this is the model that most of the Left/Democrats are aiming for. See, when The State owns the means of production, it’s on The State to both get the *instructions* and the *execution of those instructions* correct. As long as we have a democratic republic of some sort (and until they can get the guns it’s GOING to be a democratic republic of some sort) having the state *own* the means of production means it also owns all the problems.

    A better model, one that they’ve been following since at least the 1930s, is that they will “allow” private sector actors to continue to own the means of production while they hem them in with regulations and requirements that make it difficult to impossible to turn a profit, and will hammer them with taxes, fines and fees.

    I think we’re all educated enough to know what this economic model is called.

    A small business man I know is relocating his company–and 5 of his employees are going with–to Wyoming because of the way the Colorado Democrats are treating businesses. In one example he had to file paperwork to the effect that he *doesn’t* do delivery (he does mail order) and after several go-rounds it works out that he has to file *every month* and pay 100 dollars to file that form.

  4. >>Shoppers won’t be allowed near any of the merchandise.

    You mean like any corner store in poor parts of Blue Bastion cities?

    I saw this in the mid 1990s in Philadelphia when I stopped off in a bad part of town for a pack of smokes. The customer area of the store was hermetically sealed from the merchandise and staff by bullet proof counters and floor to cieling plexi. Customers could point at what they wanted from the shelves, and staff would bag their purchases, accept money through a slot, and when paid, put the bag into what was essentially an airlock for the customers to take. Of interest was the fact that cigs could be purchased in lots of 1, 5, 10 or a whole 20 pack.

    Philly, of course, understood this to be a humiliation, and accordingly, tried to ban the practice under the guise of health regulations:

    See here:

  5. There were two retail establishments that operated that way in the Province of Ontario when I was a wee lad. One was called Consumers Distributing, and they were a successful chain for a while, but it went the way of the dinosaur after a few years. I bought my first calculator from them, at about half the price the big department stores wanted ($45 instead of $89.95). It added, subtracted, multiplied, and divided. Maybe did percentages, but I don’t recall. Everybody in my 5th grade class was quite envious!

    The other establishment that operated in that fashion abandoned it before I was able to (legally) use it, and that was the LCBO–the Liquor Control Board of Ontario. It’s still called that, incidentally. Up until the 70s, you would go in, fill out a form including your name, address, phone number and social insurance number, and hand it to the clerk. They cross-referenced that information against “known habitual drunkards,” and if you were “safe” to sell to, they’d hand you your bottle(s) in unmarked brown bags. You were not allowed to examine them until you were not in pubic view. Children were not allowed to even see the inside of the store; my dad told me all about that and it was quite mind-boggling.

    The liquor laws there were equally insane. The words “bar” and “saloon” were illegal to use in a business name. You could all it a tavern, a pub, or a Beverage Room. Last call was 1am until the 1990s.

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