The Legacy of the Rolling Store

May 24, 2023 –

Sitting on my grandparent’s front porch, I saw the approaching dust cloud signaling the soon-to-arrive rolling store. My grandparents and the other customers could expect the truck to roll up and toot its horn at the same time each week. The store’s arrival time was every Wednesday, mid-morning.

The stores serviced regular routes. It was common for people who ran rolling stores to swap out merchandise for common farm goods such as eggs, chickens, pecans, shelled corn, or vegetables, for items like flour, shoes, or chewing tobacco.

Rural American families bought into the rolling store’s motto “We Buy Anything, We Sell Everything.” This principle gave my grandparents another example of give and take. If I need what you have, I must give you what you need.

Some people are excellent bargainers. Even when bargaining, they are looking to beat the other person. Be cautious in dealing with unknown people. Be sure you want what they have and what you will exchange.

So, the next time you are in a grocery store, think of the great legacy of the rolling store and its ability to bring sellers and customers together for mutual benefit. B. C. Forbes famously said, “The bargain that yields mutual satisfaction is the only one that is apt to be repeated.”

While barter habits may change, give and take is an idea that will never be old-fashioned.