Saturday, February 11, 2012

Before Self Service

Northenden co-op branch 1950
I've not discovered any pictures of the inside of the Hardy Lane Co-op store as it was before the modern era. However I came across some poorly reproduced indoor photoraphs of similar branches of the Manchester and Salford Co-op. Taken around 1950 just before they introduced the self-service format. First is the Northenden store, below is Sale Moor store. This was how shopping for groceries was done. You had to queue, then you had to ask for each item unless you handed over a shopping list. At least most of the items were pre-packed and you didn't have to wait for someone to have a quarter of tea weighed, then the flour bagged up it was in earlier times. Bacon, ham and cheese were still cut to your request.

Sale Moor Co-op Branch 1950
The self-service format changed grocery forever. More product lines could be stocked. You could shop at your own speed, and didn't have to ask. Manufacturers needed to promote their brand through more advertising. Who remembers those "as seen on Tv" promotions. Now the only queue is at the checkout?

From the pictures you may note the shoppers are women who wear hats and head scarfs. There are items that look like spades, maybe brooms, a roll of lino and items in big glass jars...

Shopping like this existed through to the early 1960's. I read recently that the last J. Sainsbury's to adopt the self-service model was in 1962. Hardy Lane went self-service in 1959. You may wonder if there are still any stores in a remote part of the UK that still has old fashioned service?

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