|Hempfield Supply Company
The Company Store, Crows Nest:
With the building of the company houses at Crows Nest Mine, Bovard (Crows Nest), Hempfield Township, by the Keystone Coal & Coke Company and the bringing in of the miners families, this meant that a means had to be created to supply food, clothes and other necessities for them. The coal company store was the solution to the problem, and at the same time the coal company saw where it could also turn a profit. Hempfield Supply Company ran the Company Stores for The Keystone Coal & Coke Company.
The first Company Store was located in what is now House 105 and was managed by Frank Manageri. Later about 1912, the brick building, which still stands at the corner of First Street was built, and became the permanent site of the Company Store.
|Hempfield Supply Company Bovard Store
The Keystone Coal Company, Hempfield Supply Company, Company Store which served the Crows Nest Mine, Bovard (Crows Nest), as it appeared in ca.1985. The Hempfield Supply Company ran the company stores for Keystone Coal & Coke Company. Note: the door at the right was the paymasters booth . The building has since been remodeled into a showroom and offices.
(Photo by J.R. Downs, courtesy of the Tribune-Review, August 18, 1985)
|There were many managers or store bosses as they were called. Among
them were Ray Ride, Ira Fennel and Jim Garlitz. Jim Garlitz managed the company
store the longest, coming to Bovard in ca.1925 and serving as manager till
1960. When the Company Store was sold to Superior Stores, he continued
to manage it for the Superior Company until it folded.
The community of Bovard was fortunate in that the Company Store did not overcharge the people for their food and other items as was the common practice in many of the company stores of that day. What items were available? You name it and it could almost surely be bought at the "Company Store." Besides the food, the customer could buy: work clothes, miners boots, shoes, ice boxes, refrigerators, safety pins, toys, candy, yard goods, shirts, jewelry, and many, many, many more items. Once a month, a tailor would come to the store and if a new suit was needed, he would take all the measurements and in a week or so, you had a new suit. Best of all, it could be charged to your store bill and paid in easy payments, from your pay
Speaking of credit, the Company Store operated on the credit system, long before there were credit cards. Few were the miners who never bought on credit from the company store. In the early years of Crows Nest Mine, no other stores from outside the town were allowed to sell or deliver food into the town. Later, Quint's Market delivered and took orders for food in Bovard.
There were two methods of credit at the company store. One was the slip where items purchased and the cost of each were put on a duplicate slip and at the end of the pay period, all or part of the bill was deducted from the miner's pay. If work was slow, some of the credit was carried over to the next pay period, and most time to many other pay periods. Keeping the miner in debt to the Company Store, and the coal company.
|Hempfield Supply Company Store at Crows Nest Mine, Bovard, PA, as it
appeared in ca.2000. It has been extensively remodeled for use as a retail
store and offices.
(Photo captured from a video taken by Raymond A. Washlaski, Nov. 2001)
|The side of the Hempfield Supply Company Store along the Cloverdale Street,
at Crows Nest Mine.
(Photo captured from a video taken by Raymond A. Washlaski, Nov. 2001)
|COMPANY STORE SCRIPT
The second method was the Company Store Check. The check was issued in amounts of $1, $2, $3 and so forth, up to $10 and were really a form of company script.
Peter E. Starry, Jr. of Salemville Mine and Charles W. Kozur of Crows Nest Mine looking over a Company Store Check (Script) from the Hempfield Supply Company, the supply company store branch of Keystone Coal & Coke Company.
(Photo courtesy of the collections of Peter E. Starry, Jr., of New Alexandria, PA)
|The Company Store Check could be punched for any purchase from one cent
to one dollar. A hole was punched so that the remaining value of the
check could be determined. The amounts of all the checks drawn in a pay period
was then deducted from the miner's pay.
While the intent of the check was for the purchase of food and other necessary items at the company store, there was another use, never intended by the coal company, to which they were put. Some of the miners short of cash would draw a check and then sell it for cash to someone with ready money. A dollar check would sell for 75 cents, while a $5.00 check might bring only $4.00 in cash, but both the buyer and the seller were satisfied.
The store at Christmas time was a wonderful place for the kids. All the toys were on display and decorations were strung around the store. The company store, at times, would give a pound box of candy at Christmas for each child in the family and one for mom and dad.
A service of the company store which helped to make it popular was the delivery of groceries, made to the homes in town twice each day. Anything was delivered, from a jar of jelly or jam to a complete order was delivered. Earlier, before the advent of the popular electric refrigerator, the store truck delivered block ice to the homes for their ice box. The kids used to follow the truck in the summer and get a piece of ice to melt in their mouth and help relieve the heat.
There was no self service at this store. Clerks waited on you and the butcher cut or ground your meat to order. In addition to waiting on customers, clerks filled orders, and replenished the stock on the selves. Many people throughout the years were clerks and cashiers in the store.
The butcher shop was a separate part of the store and was always run by a man known as "Butch." Here customers got their lunch meats sliced, the roast cut, the butter, and the ground meat for their tables. There were the two huge butcher blocks that sat behind the counter and the sawdust on the floor. The butchers would give you a taste of something you were interested in purchasing, like cheese or lunchmeat.
The store was the only building in town that had as elevator. It was used to hoist the heavy boxes and other items from the basement to the first floor or the second floor store room. All of the furniture and bedding was kept on the second floor along with the boxed items, only one of which was displayed on the main floor of the store.
The Boy Scouts, Baseball Teams and the town churches would hold bake sales at the Company store. The women of the town would bake pies and cakes and take them to the store where they would be sold. The profits always went to the organization that held the bake sale and the store charged nothing for its use.
(Extracted from "Bovard 75th Anniversary 1910-1985" book)
|Continue your tour of Crows Nest Mine|
|Crows Nest Mine, Bovard (Crows Nest)|
|Bovard (Crows Nest), Hempfield Twp.|
|History of Crows Nest Mine|
|Coal Miners Memorial Crows Nest Mine|
|John Lopushansky, A Coal Miner of Crows Nest Mine|
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