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Dan

Worcester, MA, United States | Member Since 2007

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  • The Great A&P and the Struggle for Small Business in America

    • UNABRIDGED (11 hrs and 38 mins)
    • By Marc Levinson
    • Narrated By William Hughes
    • Whispersync for Voice-ready
    Overall
    (55)
    Performance
    (44)
    Story
    (45)

    From modest beginnings as a tea shop in New York, the Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Company became the largest retailer in the world. It was a juggernaut, the owner of nearly 16,000 stores and dozens of factories and warehouses. In1929 it became the first retailer to sell $1 billion in goods in a single year. But its explosive growth made it a mortal threat to hundreds of thousands of mom-and-pop grocery stores.

    D. Martin says: "Really Dry"
    "Really Dry"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I listen to a lot of historical nonfiction, so I don't call a book like this dry lightly. And maybe there's no better way to write something like this. But unfortunately the book ends up being just painfully dull. The origins of corporations turn out just not to be as interesting as those of military or religious movements or whatnot. So we learn that as of such and such a year, one of our protagonists owned a business selling teas on a certain street, where records show there were many such businesses, and an advertisement lists the address as a more prestigious location around the corner from where the actual entrance was according to maps, and the teas were mostly sourced from various conventional distributors but were being repackaged and marketed as more exotic, etc. Just really dry.

    I'll admit it: I gave up. Maybe it becomes a lot more interesting. I hope so because I may come back to it at some point. The book raises really interesting issues. This was a period of time when the nature of businesses was changing greatly. There used to be a large merchant class of independent store owners; today we take for granted that most of our retail experiences are with large faceless corporations. Maybe a broader survey could make this point without getting too bogged down in minutiae. But then, maybe that would be boring for lack of interesting characters and specific events.

    Unfortunately, as is, I just can't recommend anyone pick up this book.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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