Local Traders and Motorvans An Awakening.
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By a Country Housewife.
Some few months ago I described in the pages of THE COMMERCIAL MOTOR how our little household, set in the heart of the country, had got the better of the local traders by ordering all supplies from the big London stores, and taking advantage of their fine systems of motorvan, delivery. London services have suffered greatly in these days of war, so possibly an account of the present situation may be of interest.
We first tried ordering our supplies well in advance, and shared orders, so far as was possible, between the stores which effected delivery in our district, on di fierent days. Slight miscalculations produced see ious results, however, and we were forced to fall ha( k on the local people. What an agreeable change niptorrans had introduced into their methods!
Take the baker, for example. When we first moved into the district he had a. little shop in the village High Street, to dignify that straggling thoroughfare with a name. An uncouth youth of about 18 years handled the shaggy-haired pony outfit that took
round the supplies. He refused, point-blank, to cross the fields to our house. I fancy that the baker was hard put to it to earn a living, for, although there arc plenty of houses round about, the village is widely scattered. This trader bought a motorvan about two years back, and he now has the appearance of a prosperous man. When I asked him to supply our house with bread he was delighted.
Such a difference that motor makes, mum," he said. " So I should imagine," I answered.
"I can do every house in the place now," he continued. "And I don't mind telling you," and he looked rather knowing, " I get into places where there are other bakers, but—they haven't got motors." Ile told me what work the van could do. It appears that aitart is made at 7 o'clock in the morning, and the vehicle is loaded with 6 cwt. of bread, flour, etc. The morning round varies between 20 and 25 miles, and more than 50 deliveries are made. The afternoon round is not so long, and the supplies taken out consist of cakes and " fancies " for the big houses round about, and which are generally ordered beforehand. About 15 miles is the average, and between 20 and 30 calls are made.
The laundry in a neighbouring country town now uses two machines. One is a two-ton tilt-van—I hope that is the. right description. It was supplied by the driver, so I suppose it is a good one ; and the other is an American vehicle. I understand that this machine is of the pleasure-car type, but the one in question is used as a van. The heavier van is fitted with solid-rubber tires, and it is used in delivering and receiving from the big houses and the hotels and business establishments in the town. The American vehicle spends the day in working the private house
trade, and it is occasionally employed in effecting quick delivery of any special order.
The leading local draper and outfitter in this town bought a three-wheeled parcelcar some 12 months ago, and a busier machine it. would be hard to find.. The driver is more interested in its performance as a quick-mover and weight-carrier than as a business proposition. " Carries 5 cwt. easy," he said, and she can do 30 mile an hour when I mak her , Not many days when we don't do near on 70 altogether. All up an' down it is. tr_p the London road an' back to the shop. Up the 'Igh Street, an' back tc the shop. Up the bloomin' lane an' back to the shop. That's me ! I'm going to ask the guv'noi if I can have her for a week-end sometime. Cover the old name over," he pointed to the smartly-painted panels, "an' take me bloomin' car out like a torf. Them front tires have done over four thousand, an' the back one's going on for three. Some of the fellers say that these machines eat up the back tires. I don't."
" How much does it cost to deliver each parcel / I asked.
"That's not in my line, mum," he answered. "But 1 know what happens when the boss finds she costs more than 2d. a mile. Lor', there ain't arf a row at our place! "
He took the coin offered, dropped it into his pocket, whistled a bar from "Tipperary," and gave the awkwardly-placed—at least;'it seems awkward—starting-handle a tug, and sped round a bend in the road. There is a line of old-fashioned horse-drawn landaus always waiting at the station during the day. That is about all they seem to do—wait. The animals give one the impression that they have lost all interest in life through sheer inanition. The passenFeifftrade from the station is nearly all done by two private-hire cars. Their owner gave me some of their history. "I used to have six of them horse-cebs," he said. "There used to be a livin' in them, buththere ain't now. I thought_the matter over, and I come to the conclusion : 'Well, it's the 'bankruptcy court anyhow, so I may as well be in the fashion and go in a motor.' So I sells the six and buys the two motors, and I can assure you I'm glad I did. I make more money from 'ern than all those old horses do put together. Take yourself, mum. Now, if you wanted someone to meet you, or to take you from your house to anywhere else, a ball, say, you can't see yourself asking for a horsecab, can you ? " "I can't," said I. "Nor I can't neither," he answered. And he flung over his shoulder as I moved away : "And I've got another on order. People 'ud rather walk than use them! " He nodded at the weary animals standing patiently on the station slope in the sunshine.