Between 1830 and 1914 Glasgow shopping was revolutionised. As the city grew people could no longer rely entirely on markets for their produce and chains of shops selling provisions emerged. The best known were Galbraiths, Liptons and Masseys which concentrated their attention on tenement families. The development of refrigeration in the 1880s made possible the import of fresh fruits from warmer climes and Malcolm Campbell established a chain of fruit shops across the city. These shops were scattered throughout the suburbs while in the city centre large warehouses were constructed selling furniture, furnishings, other household goods and clothing.
John Anderson of Anderson's Polytechnic store was the first Glasgow warehouseman to pioneer "universal trading", selling everything from drapery to toys and patent medicines. The stores were fiercely independent and competed with each other in the grandeur of their buildings and in the quality of their goods and services. The best known were Arthur & Co, Pettigrew & Stephens, Stewart & McDonalds and Wylie & Lochhead. These were big businesses. Stewart & McDonalds, which had been established in 1826, had a turnover of over £1million by 1866. Many had their own manufacturing shops, making furniture, clothes and furnishings. All these profit-making shops were challenged by co-operative societies that sold goods at cost, purchased from the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society. Established in Glasgow in 1869, the SCWS quickly became a major force in the provision of food, clothing and household necessities to its member societies across the whole of Scotland.
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