New Lanark Kids

How we used to shop

Shopping has changed lots over time. Today we have retail parks, shopping centres and large department stores which sell almost everything. We can buy goods that come from all over the world. We even have e-commerce where you can buy on the internet.

If you visit New Lanark you can find out about shopping in the past.

This picture shows the village store in New Lanark, as it would have looked in 1820.

This picture shows the village store in New Lanark, as it would have looked in 1820.The Village Store was established by Robert Owen in 1813. It sold good quality goods at cheap prices. The shopkeeper was honest and people got value for their money. The profits from the store were used to help fund the schools in the village. Before Owen opened his Village Store there were other shops in the village, but the shop keepers were often dishonest, and charged expensive prices.

In the picture you can see Annie McLeod's mum, her little sister Phemie and the shopkeeper. Look at the big barrel of flour on the floor. Pots, candles and fabric were also sold in the shop.

1930s Store
This picture shows the 1930s Village Store exhibition at New Lanark.

This picture shows the 1930s Village Store exhibition at New Lanark.There is much more choice in this shop. Goods were packaged in wrappers, boxes and tins. Brightly coloured adverts were used to encourage people to buy certain brands and products. You can still buy items from this store today. Soor plooms, liquorice laces and sherbit are all popular buys.



A trip to the shop for Annie.

"When mum goes to the village store she's aye away for ages. She stands chatting to her friends and misses her turn to be served. Mum says we are lucky in New Lanark because it sells good food, and is quite cheap. With ten mouths to feed, she's quite glad o' this. She has to go to the shop at least three times a week.

I like watching them cut the cheese from the big, round slab. Today mum is buying cotton cloth to make me a new frock - I can't wait 'till its ready!"

Annie's mum's shopping list - the 1820s.

The weekly load up at the supermarket.

Annie is very surprised to hear we only do the food shopping once a week nowadays.
"What do you do with your meat? How can you afford so much food in one shopping trip?"

Until refrigerators became popular in the 1940s, fresh meat could not be kept for longer than a couple of days. Shopping had to be done in small amounts, several times a week. Annie's mum had ten mouths to feed and did not have enough money to buy the week's shopping all at one time.

Cathy shopped in the 1930s store at New Lanark.

Here is her shopping list:


The Start of the Co-op Society

Do you have a Co-op store near you? Did you know that the principles of the Co-op have their roots at New Lanark? Here's how!

Robert Owen's Village Store operated for the benefit of those who shopped there. Although people were not highly paid at the New Lanark mills, they received good value for money in the Store, and often had some spare money to put into their savings at the end of the week. The profits from the Store were used to help fund the education system that Robert Owen introduced.

People started to listen to Robert Owen’s ideas. A group of flannel weavers from Rochdale decided they were not happy with the service and the prices in their local shops. They raised enough money between them to open a store. Everyone who was a member received a share of the profits, known as the dividend. The more you spent in the store, the more surplus you received. Another principle was that the shop keeper would be fair and not give shoppers things like watered down milk, or flour with chalk in it. These ideas of value, fairness and giving shoppers a dividend are still practised by the Co-op today.

This picture shows a modern Co-op store.Co-op Store

Regular shoppers are given a dividend card. The more you spend, the more points you collect, which means money off your shopping bill.

Poor Annie! She has lots of goods here which have come from three shops, but they've got all mixed up during time travel.

Can you help her sort them into the correct store?
Click here to try this activity. Good luck!

Hasn't the food we eat, the shops we have, and the way we do our shopping changed a lot over time?

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