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Inventors Shopping Innovations
By Mary Bellis

The Mall
A shopping center, shopping mall, or shopping plaza, is the modern adaptation of the historical marketplace. The mall is a collection of independent retail stores, services, and a parking area, which is conceived, constructed, and maintained by a separate management firm as a unit. They may also contain restaurants, banks, theaters, professional offices, service stations etc.

The first shopping mall was the Country Club Plaza, founded by the J.C. Nichols Company and opened near Kansas City, Mo., in 1922. The first enclosed mall called Southdale opened in Edina, Minnesota (near Minneapolis) in 1956. In the 1980s, giant megamalls were developed. The West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada, opened in 1981 - with more than 800 stores and a hotel, amusement park, miniature-golf course, church, "water park" for sunbathing and surfing, a zoo and a 438-foot-long lake.

shopping cartShopping Carts
Sylvan Goldman invented the first shopping cart in 1936. Sylvan owned a chain of  Oklahoma City grocery stores called Standard/Piggly-Wiggly. He invented the first shopping cart by adding two wire basket and wheels to a folding chair. Goldman, together with mechanic Fred Young, later designed a dedicated shopping cart in 1947 and formed the Folding Carrier Co. to manufacture the carts.

In 1946, Orla Watson, of Kansas City, MO, invented the telescoping shopping cart. By using hinged baskets, each shopping cart fitted into the shopping cart ahead for compact storage. The telescoping shopping carts were first used at Floyd Day's Super Market in 1947.

Shopping Carts

Smart Cart
Silicon Valley inventor George Cokely - the same guy behind the Pet Rock - has come up with a modern solution to one of the supermarket industry's oldest problems: stolen shopping carts. It's called Stop Z-Cart. The wheel of the shopping cart hold the device which contains a chip and some electronics, when the cart is rolled over a certain distance away from the store, the shopping cart owners know about it.

Shopping Cart Bumpers with Advertising
Harold Evans patented (US patent #5,306,033) a shopping cart bumper system, a foam wrap-around unit that protects while providing valuable advertising space.

Automatic Doors
Horton Automatics developed and sold the first automatic sliding door in America in 1960. The company co-founders Dee Horton and Lew Hewitt invented the sliding automatic door in 1954. Their automatic doors used a mat actuator.

"The idea came to Lew Hewitt and Dee Horton to build an automatic sliding door back in the mid-1950's,  when they saw that existing swing doors had difficulty operating  in Corpus Christi's winds. So the two men went to work inventing an automatic sliding door that would circumvent the problem of high winds and their damaging effect.  Horton Automatics Inc. was formed in 1960, placing the first commercial automatic sliding door on the market and literally establishing a brand-new industry." source
The Horton Family - Automated Entry
If Horton Automatics of Corpus Christi has its way, homes in the United States will begin installing sliding automatic doors, which company co-founders Dee Horton and Lew Hewitt invented in 1954. Their first door in operation was a unit donated to the City of Corpus Christi for its Shoreline Drive utilities department. The first one sold was installed at the old Driscoll Hotel for its Torch Restaurant.

A Philadelphia pharmacist named Asa Candler invented the coupon in 1895. Candler bought the Coca-Cola company from the original inventor Dr. John Pemberton, an Atlanta pharmacist. Candler placed coupons in newspaper for a free Coke from any fountain - to help promote the new soft drink.
Bar Codes
The first patent for bar code (US Patent #2,612,994) was issued to inventors Joseph Woodland and Bernard Silver on October 7, 1952.
Cash Register
In 1884, James Ritty invented what was nicknamed the "Incorruptible Cashier" or the first working, mechanical cash register.
Credit Cards and Money
Past, present and future, the history of money.

Mail Order Catalog
Aaron Montgomery Ward sent out his first mail order catalog in 1872 - for his Montgomery Ward mail order business located at Clark and Kinzie Streets in Chicago. The first catalog consisted of a single sheet of paper with a price list, 8 by 12 inches, showing the merchandise for sale with ordering instructions.

"Ward's gradually expanded the catalog. They became bigger, more heavily illustrated, chock full of goods-- often referred to as "dream books" by rural families."
Aaron Montgomery Ward was born on Feb. 17, 1844 and died on Dec. 7, 1913. He first worked for Marshall Field, a department store, as both a store clerk and a traveling salesman. As a traveling salesman, he realized that his rural customers could be better served by mail-order, a revolutionary idea. He started his business with only $2,400 in capital. Montgomery Ward was a mail-order only business until 1926, when the first Montgomery Ward retail store opened in Plymouth, Indiana.
1872 Montgomery Ward-First Mail-Order House
Catalog Image
Department Stores
According to Hoover's online, "Bloomingdale's was founded in 1872 by brothers Lyman and Joseph Bloomingdale, the store rode the popularity of the hoop skirt to sales success and practically invented the department store concept at the beginning of the 20th century. Bloomingdale's joined the Federated corporate family in 1930."

In 1877, John Wanamaker opened "The Grand Depot" a six story round department store in Philadelphia. According to Andrew Maykuth Online, "John Wanamaker never claimed to have invented the department store, but he was on the cutting edge of a trend. The retail giants of the day, Marshall Field in Chicago, Alexander T. Steward in New York, were discovering that the vast power of buying wholesale could cut costs to reduce retail prices." John Wanamaker is credited with developing one of the first (if not the first) true department stores in the country, and with creating the first White Sale, modern price tags, and the first in-store restaurant. He also pioneered the use of money-back guarantees and newspaper ads to advertise his retail goods. 

John Wanamaker (1838-1922)
Pioneer of department stores

In 1868, Mormon leader Brigham Young, founded Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Institution (ZMCI) in Salt Lake City, which some historians credit as being the first department store however, most historians give the credit to John Wanamaker. According to the Pioneers, "ZCMI first sold clothing, dry goods, drugs, groceries, produce, shoes, trunks, sewing machines, wagons, and machinery. It was thus a department store from the very start and ZCMI claims to be America’s first full-fledged department store at birth."

Photo provided by Defense Commissary Agency

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