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Apr 22, 2010

The Grocer


Beginning as early as the 14th century, a grocer (also called purveyor) was a dealer in comestible dry goods such as spices, pepper, sugar, and (later) cocoa, tea and coffee. These items were bought in bulk, hence the term grocer from the French "grossier" meaning wholesaler.

As increasing numbers of staple foodstuffs became available in cans and other less-perishable packaging, the trade expanded its province. Today, grocers deal in a wide-range of staple food-stuffs including such perishables as meats, produce and dairy products. Such goods are, hence, groceries.

In the United States and United Kingdom, supermarkets and convenience stores are sometimes described as grocery businesses, or simply grocers.[note 1] The early supermarkets began as chains of grocer's shops. Clarence Saunders of Memphis, Tennessee invented the self-service grocery store with open stock in 1916, for which he received a US patent.