Clarence Saunders—an oft-forgotten early 20th century entrepreneur—is one of the five most important men in the history of American groceries. You could make an argument that he deserves a spot on the list of the top 100 most important businessmen of the entire 20th century.
Saunders revolutionized the grocery store business by recognizing why small-town grocery store chains kept failing.
In the early 1900s, the typical grocery store experience had similarities with visiting a pharmacy today. You would show up at the storefront, present a list of what you needed, a clerk would retrieve the items, and then you would pay the bill or pay it on credit (grocery stores would keep a ledger of amounts owing).
This made it difficult for small-town grocers to earn a profit because the number of clerks required to retrieve objects was high, the non-payment of bills by families paying groceries on … Read the rest of this article!