Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 51.djvu/428
��POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
��on under different managements. It enables capital to gain such gen- erous rewards that it can command executive talents of a far higher or- der than those content with the profits of a small concei'n. As a consequence, its management is the most efficient that is to say, the most economical. Obeying still fur- ther the law of evolution, the several departments also fall into the most eSicient hands. The subordinates are likewise intrusted with the par- ticular duties they are best fitted for. Thus, from top to bottom, there is an adaptation of meaias to ends far beyond the reach of an establish- ment where the management is of a low order of ability and the subor- dinates unite in their duties a variety of functions. A further gain is had from saving in rents, and from the purchase of goods in large quanti- ties. Besides economy in prices, so important to the multitude of con- sumers, whose welfare the "new" social reformer seldom considers, there is economy in time and effort. The department store enables them to obtain what they w^ant with a minimum of movement.
In absolute ignorance of the na- ture and achievements of the immu- table law that has called the depart- ment store into existence, the " new " social reformer has begun to wrestle, as already stated, with the " problem " it presents. He has begun to repeat the follies that every inventor from Arkwright down has had to face. To be sure, no department store has been sacked or burned ; but the legis- lation pi'oposed as a " I'emedy " has virtually the same object in view, namely, the destruction of an impor- tant labor-saving device. But, most happily, it presents difficulties to its enemies that a mere machine does not offer. Not long ago, when a number of them met in Chicago to propose a solution of the problem,"
��they could not, as might have been foreseen, agree upon the limit to put upon the kinds of goods the de- partment store shovild sell. Hardly had the druggist vented his griev- ance and suggested the rigid exclu- sion of his goods before the tobac- conist arose to protest against the incursion of the druggist into his domain. The grocer filed a like complaint against the butcher, who sells vegetables as well as meat. It was discovered also that the butcher trespassed upon the fishmonger and the oyster dealer. In selliiig beer and liquor, the grocer was guilty of a similar offense against the saloon keeper. Equally culpable was the tobacconist who sold papers and um- brellas ; the shoe dealer who sold, trunks and valises; the bookseller who dealt in candy and stationery ; and the milliner who sold corsets and toilet articles. In fact, the meet- ing contained hardly a protestant that did not deal in one or more articles outside of his specialty, and thus present the same " serious prob- lem " that the department store docs. Naturally, itbroke up without having reached a decision as to how the " problem " should be solved.
Although the same insuperable difficulties confront the " new " so- cial reformer and are not unlike- ly to prevent him from getting the legislation so generally regarded as the solvent of most troubles, the " problem " of the department store is not insoluble. That is to say, a limit upon its scope is not impossible nor improbable. But the limit will not be di*awn by the wise legisla- tor," but by the law of evolution itself. There is reason to believe that the small store, devoted to spe- cial lines of goods, will not succumb altogether. Of certain staple goods and of all goods of a medium or in- ferior quality, the department store will doubtless retain the monopoly.