Main Street, U.S.A.

in Modernizing Main Street

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780226218007
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226218021 | DOI:
Main Street, U.S.A.

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In the 1920s, Main Street faced increasing competition from chain and independent retailers operating out of new and expanded buildings. Though local chambers of commerce and merchant associations worked hard to promote Main Street's collective business interests throughout the prosperity decade, they could not regulate the opening of too many rival stores that continually drove each other out of business. Even more significantly, they were unable to forestall the precipitous rise of two new forms of retailing that offered serious competition for independent Main Street establishments: chain stores and neighborhood shopping areas. Chain stores and shopping areas became familiar fixtures of the commercial landscape and influenced Main Street with their distinctive economic and architectural presence—both on and off the older business strip. The chains undertook multimillion-dollar modernization programs for a variety of reasons, but most basically they were carrying out a declared “prime objective” to keep their stores up-to-date. This chapter looks at the rise and decline of Main Street stores, focusing on their modernization. It also discusses competing retail forms and Main Street's clash with Wall Street.

Keywords: Main Street; retailers; modernization; chain stores; shopping areas; competition; Wall Street

Chapter.  13093 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of the Americas

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