Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Wednesday in Wyoming -- July 12, 2017

Do you know what this is?  Since I told you last week that my July posts would be about the JCPenney Mother Store, you can guess that the picture was taken there.  But what is the purpose of this system of pulleys?

Believe it or not, it's how customers paid for merchandise and received change in the early days of the store. One of the defining characteristics of the Golden Rule and subsequently the JCPenney stores was that sales were cash only -- no credit -- so a lot of cash changed hands each day.

When a customer gave a clerk payment, the cash was placed in one of the tubes along with the sales slip. The tubes were then hoisted via the pulley system to the second floor of the building, where the cash register was located.  Change was returned by the same method. A unique system, don't you agree?

This was the first cash register.

The "cash only" policy remained in effect until 1958, when the store introduced its own credit card, reflecting the fact the country had changed, and Penney's needed to as well if they were going to continue to adhere to their principle of making customer satisfaction their highest priority.

More changes occurred two decades later when bank credit cards began to replace individual store cards. (One of the advantages of the bank credit cards was that it was easier for customers to carry one card and receive one bill rather than dozens.) In response to customer demand, Penney's began accepting Visa in 1979, with Mastercard following in 1980.
And now, although the Mother Store still maintains a nostalgic air, payment is definitely modern.


4 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Cindy -- I really felt as if I had stepped back a hundred years when I was inside the store. Such fun!

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  2. I remember those, as a kid it was good entertainment for while Mom shopped.

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    Replies
    1. I hadn't thought of it as entertainment, but I'll bet it was fun to watch.

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