The distribution of meats to the consuming public is accomplished through many different types of retail markets. Traditions and buying habits of the public have also influenced the distribution methods in a great many localities. Meats find their main outlet through the following types of retail markets :
1. The public market.
2. The semi-public market.
3. The typical meat market or combination meat and grocery store.
4. The department store meat market.
5. The commissary market or company store.
6. The Mototeria.
7. The meat peddler’s wagon.
These various markets can again be divided into classes ac-cording to the business methods used in each:
1. The straight meat market conducted on a cash basis with-out delivery.
2. The combination meat and grocery market conducted on a cash basis without delivery.
3. The combination meat and grocery market doing a credit and delivery business.
4. The typical straight meat market doing a credit business.
5. The chain store meat market conducted on a cash basis without delivery.
The different markets may again be divided into classes ac-cording to the grades of meats handled, as follows :
1. Prime meat markets, handling choice and prime meats only.
2. The typical regular meat market, handling fair to good grades of meat.
3. The cut rate market handling poor quality of meats or what the market has to offer.
The Public Market
The oldest method of retailing meats is through the public market. The origin of marketing meats in this manner can be traced back to the days of the Roman Empire. The Roman Forum may be considered the first public market, as stalls were used for the marketin of meats. While the Roman Forum was built principally to serve as a meeting place of the people, it also served as a marketing place.
In practically all European countries, one still finds landmarks which date back hundreds of years, indicating that they were erected to serve as public markets. Such landmarks are public fountains, monuments or shafts which originally served to indicate the “market place” of the town or city. One also finds today, in the public squares of many European cities of practically all nations, market places where the butchers, the fish dealers, the vegetable dealers and other vendors have temporary stands erected on certain days of the week for the sale of their products in the public square.
That the first American settlers were also influenced by such public markets is evidenced by the fact that in many of the old American cities, the public market is still in existence. Such cities as Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Norfolk, Va., Charleston, S. C., and New Orleans, La., now have had public market buildings dating back to colonial days. During the early colonial period, meats were sold at convenient points on the street. Provisions and meats were often traded from house to house, as is still the custom in some European countries.
Increased population, however, demanded better facilities for marketing, which led to the erection of public markets at convenient points in the town or city. No doubt the oldest public market in the United States is the Faneuil Hall Public Ma’rket of Boston, Mass. This market was started in 1740 and completed’ in 1742, over 185 years ago. Another old market which dates back over 100 years, is the Centre Market House or public market of Charleston, S. C.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The advantages and disadvantages of public markets depend upon local conditions and buying habits of the people to a very great extent. The meat buyer has the advantage of buying all table products in a concentrated area without having to go to different markets. This seems to be practically the only advantage to the buyer.
The meat retailer’s advantages are limited :
A. He does not require any investment for certain fixtures and equipment as in the modern public markets, the refrigerators, and refrigeration and display counters are furnished by the municipalities.
B. Groups of buyers visit the market, which enables the retailer to count upon a certain amount of business.
There are, however, certain disadvantages connected with the re-tailing in public markets such as :
MARKETS AND MARKETING METHODS 711
A. Keen competition is brought about by the concentrated location of all retailers.
B. The stall renter is usually subject to strict regulations of the market master.
C. The stall renter is also subject to regulations as to what products he can sell.
D. As advertising signs are usually forbidden and since there is no window space available for display, the stall renter is seriously handicapped by lack of display and advertising signs.
This last disadvantage is quite serious. In certain cities where public markets exist, outside retailers have been attracted to locations in the immediate vicinity of the public market. Having the advantage of the attractive show windows and unrestricted display signs for advertising, such markets get considerable transient trade which this advertising has drawn away from the public market. The wide-awake retailer cannot be blamed for taking full advantage of a concentrated shopping district created by a public market.
The changes which have taken place in our modern life also make their influence felt in the public market. In former years, a great deal of the marketing was done on foot and housewives carried their own market baskets. Today, the automobile is more extensively used for doing the marketing. For that reason parking space for automobiles has become an influential factor in the success of a public market. This was anticipated by the St. Louis, Mo., market builders in the construction of the New Union Market, as the upper floors of the public market house have been made into garages for publiclic storage of automobiles. Unless ample parking space is provided near a public market, the parking question is a very important one to reckon with.
There are also other disadvantages for the retailer in a public market. On rainy, stormy, or cold days, for instance, he may find business very slack, as people do not care to go a long distance to the public market. They therefore, buy their meat at the nearest neighborhood market. Another disadvantage is the fact that a large percentage of sales made in the public market are usually not made to regular customers, but to people who buy at one stand one day and then at another the next day.
While the stand owner in a public market, no doubt, has a certain number of steady customers, a great amount of business is done by passing trade, which may be attracted by counter displays or the prices shown. Therefore, the typical market owner in a store has a much closer contact with his neighborhood trade and is able to render a greater service to the customers than the stand owner in a public market.
Absence of Show Windows
Public markets do not have show windows by which trade can be attracted with fine displays of meats or merchandise. One of the most recent public markets finished in the United States is the new Union Market in St. Louis, which was constructed at a cost of $1,000,000. When this market was opened during 1925, there was a great demand for rental of stalls. This public market was considered a model in every way. But stall owners found, after a year’s operation, that the patronage was lacking and in the following year, 1926, there were over 21 vacant stalls available for which no lessee could be found.
Retailers claim that on account of restrictions imposed upon them this market is not meeting with success. They were not in a position to advertise their products, had no show windows, and the public in general did not patronize the market.
The meat retailer renting or owning his store is, of course, not placed under such handicaps as the dealer renting a stall in the city market. While restrictions are absolutely necessary when applied to any group of merchants located in one building, these re-strictions imposed do not apply to the individual market owner who rents a store elsewhere.
For general information as to the rules and regulations under which the stall renter operates, a copy is given herewith of the rules and regulations as given by the city of St. Louis, Mo., for the St. Louis Union Public Market.