From: “Bert Richardson Memoirs,” The Heritage of Blytheville, Arkansas, Wade c 1973, pg. 12-14
Some things I remember about the country stores: The candy was in large barrels. When we went to the store to buy our bill of groceries, each child was given a large paper sack full of candy. Sometimes it was all stuck together and we had to pry it apart, but it was candy nevertheless. The first packaged candy I remember was peppermint candy in a box. Each piece was not wrapped separately, though, and it became a big mess in the warm weather.
The crackers came in a large barrel. One would reach down into the barrel with his hands, clean or not, and sack up the desired amount of crackers in a paper sack. They were then weighed and sold by the pound.
Cheese came in big round hoops. We used a cheese cutter to cut the size hunk we wanted. By taking a guitar wire you could rip the cheese hoop in half and put half back in the icebox, while one-half stayed on the counter for sale.
Pickled pig feet came in barrels. You could get a pig foot and a few crackers from the barrel for five cents.
We would take prepared mustard and mix it half and half with vinegar to make it go further in the store.
About 500 pound cakes of ice were put in the top of the big icebox where the meat hung. The meat had to be sold fast, or it would begin smelling in a short time. We had soda pop in the boxes with ice on them.
Everything that was shipped to the store came in hoop barrels instead of cardboard boxes like we have today. Dried apples and peaches came in 50 pound boxes. We had a hook we could use to pull them loose so we could sack them.
Coffee came in coffee beans to the store and were ground there with a hand grinder. I’ll bet I have ground 100 pounds of coffee in one day many a time. We didn’t have computer scales and had to weigh each item and figure its cost on paper.
We sacked potatoes from 100 pound bags, weighing out 12 ½ pounds for a peck. Flour was shipped to us in barrels by the carloads. The farmer bought it by the barrels. I can remember selling eight barrels of flour to one farmer. We also had sacks of flour for the smaller families.
Northern beans also came in grass burlap bags. I have sold many a 100 pounds of northern beans to one family. When the farm sold his crop and drew his first check after paying his debts, he would stop by the sotre and load up with his winters supply of flour, coffee and winter groceries. . .