Days of Yore
 B F Fowler General Store (40K)
B. F. Fowler General Store
as recounted by

Bill Day

 

 

B.F.Fowler General Store

In the early 1900's the biggest commercial establishment in Haddonfield was the B.F. Fowler General Store.  This was located at the corner of east Kings Highway and Ellis street.

It was a large two-storiedbrick building with a tin shelter over the sidewalk on the Ellis street side.  Ben Fowler, as B.F. was popularly known, had the ground floor as one big expanse with a grocery store on the Ellis street side and the remainder a large dry goods and shoe store.

Wires ran all over the store just above the customers' heads.  They transported little carriers which held sales slips and money to the cashier, who sat in a wrought iron cage in the center of the store.  She would make the change and return it by carrier to the clerk to complete the sales transaction.

In front of the counters in the dry goods section were a number of round wooden seats on pedestals attached to the counter and held there by springs.  The lady customers could pull them out and sit in comfort while being waited on.

Along Ellis street, the horses and wagons stood that delivered orders throughout the town.  The tin canopy over the sidewalk kept everything dry during inclement weather.

A good many of the other stores in town were owned by Ben's former clerks who first got their experience at his store and then branched out for themselves.

Ath the rear of the building on the second floor down Ellis street was what was called the Opera House, where traveling shows and affairs staged by the townspeople were held.  In later years the Opera House became the high school gymnasium.  The boys and girls would walk down Centre street in columns of twos from Lincoln avenue and Chestnut street where the high school then stood.

At the rear of the buuilding on the first floor was a department of feed and grain that was highly patronized when horses were prominent in town.

Eventually B.F. Fowler went out of business.  The building was torn down and replaced by a supermarket that had moved into town and needed larger quarters.

The service in the modern supermarket of today is so different from the methods performed by Fowler's.  Do you remember when the only way to purchase molasses was to take a jar into Ben Smith, who with a big ladle would fill it with the syrup from the big barrel that stood in the grocery department.  The best part of the transaction was the beautiful aroma that big harrel full of molasses gave out.

A taken-for-granted service given customers by Fowler's backi in those days was the man who knocked on your front door nearly every day to take your order for bread, butter, spices, and sundries which he would deliver by horse and wagon some time later in the day.  Do stores actually believe that they give service now?


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