average petty trader was about as dishonest as the confidence man now met with at the racetrack.
Oftentimes the wares for sale were exposed in a lean-to or booth outside the house, encroaching upon the narrow street. The apprentices took turns standing to attract customers whose attention they solicited by the well known cry of "What do ye lack? What do ye lack?" People then as now often haunted shops for the purpose of satisfying curiosity rather than for the purpose of buying. Such people earned the contemporary title of "stall-troublers." The replacing of an appretice by an alluring wife or daughter was a common trick of the trade and frequently led to much scandal. Thus Field in Amends for Ladies (ii. 2) refers to "some decayed tradesman that doth make his wife entertain those for gain that he not endures."
Numerous passages in the Elizabethan plays refer to "false lights." The phrase applies to the placing of windows and other sources of light so as to defeat their own ends; in other words, an intentional effort was made to darken the shop rather than to render it light for the easy and just examination of goods. Thus:
"Fool that hadst rather with false lights and dark
Beguiled be than see the ware thou buyest."
(Nero, ii. 2.)