Artifact and Analysis

Document 3
The Educated Consumer

Our eighteenth-century forebears lived the simple and uncomplicated existence of a community predominantly agricultural. They were close to the things they required to sustain and to enrich life . . . But our modern scientific and industrial civilization, while showering upon us gifts hitherto beyond the reach of even the wealthiest, has complicated every phase of living. While the housewife of 1777 knew practically everything about the materials and workmanship of her dress or sideboard, the housewife of 1937 cannot be expected to have more than a passing acquaintance with even a few of the 500,000 items which a modern department store may stock. To shop wisely, she must rely on her own experience, upon the integrity of the stores where she shops, and upon that of companies whose nationally advertised products have deservedly established a reputation of consistent high quality . . .

The intelligent shopper will want to supplement the knowledge she has gained by experience; she will want to know more about the products she contemplates purchasing. . . . Here, within the covers of one volume, she may find the specific, the incisive information which can guide her to better shopping—to more economical shopping—to more satisfying shopping—whether the object of her quest be a handkerchief or a handbag, floor covering or furniture.

The Art of Retail Selling: A Textbook for Sales People,
New York: New York Institute of Mercantile Training, 1909.