Nowadays, the likes of Walmart and Target reign supreme when it comes to grocery shopping. But for much of the 20th century, things were totally different. Independent stores and specialist sellers were the order of the day for decades, in fact, until the gradual takeover of supermarkets and big-box stores. And thanks to these fascinating historical photographs, we can see that change happen through snapshots taken over the years – one of them being the beguiling picture above, which was shot in the 1960s.
20. Grocery shopping (late 19th century)
In their infancy, grocery stores weren’t typically places in which you’d go for a look around. In fact, generally you’d just take a list of the things you needed and hand it to the clerk. They’d then go around the building, finding and bagging up your goods. And self-service stores didn’t arrive until around a couple of decades after this photo was taken.
19. The original self-service store (1918)
Piggly Wiggly broke new ground in the early 20th century, however, by introducing self-service grocery stores. When the first branch opened its doors in 1916, it was the inaugural supermarket of its kind to allow customers to walk around and pick out their own items rather than passing a list to an employee. Piggly Wiggly still exists as a chain, too, and its stores can be found around the Southern and Midwestern U.S.