Omaha daily bee. (Omaha [Neb.]) 187?-1922, February 21, 1909, HALF-TONE, Image 17

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    IThe Omaha
PACLS 1 TO 4. .
unday Bee
Important Associations That Meet in Omaha From Year to Year and the Effect and Benefit to Trade in General That Comes From Their Deliberations
MB THOUSAND Nebraska business men visit
Omaha each month to attend conventions, as
sociation meetings, grand lodges and trade
eiposltlons. These are the most progressive
Officers of the Nebraska Retail Hardware Dealers' Association
men In their line; tnose who take their work
seriously and mean to do a little or much work to help
the other fellow.
Some of them come In response to calls which look
and sound like the blast of the Shrlners' horn or the
muezzin's err of "Allah, Allah;" some of them are
Shrlners, Elks, Masons or members of some secret or fra
ternal order, but the one Interest they show a disposition
to regard as above all others Is the welfare, growth and
effectiveness of their traae organization. These organ
izations compose the International congress of talkers
a great grand Jury always sitting, where public wrongs
are first declared, public errors first corrected and public
opinion shaped day by day a little nearer the right.
The history of the Nebraska trade organizations Is
one long conversation, checkered by disputes. - No new
law goes on the statute books of the state affecting com
merce or governing trade but what It Is first prepared by
the conventions, a large number of which meet in
Omaha. Thus it is said that while Lincoln is the capital
and the legislature meets there, the laws are made at
conventions and association meetings; the pure food
laws by the representative manufacturers and sellers of
foods-, railroad laws by associations composed of big
shippers of coal, lumber and merchandise, and others by
the associations representing the line affected. The ideas
are turned over, this rnd that struck out or inserted,
then, without sound of trumpet, the organizations move
on Lincoln, aligning their guns on certain legislative
ramparts and coming away with new notches on their
gunstocks. Many a good law has resulted from the
report of a resolutions committee in some convention
held at one of the big hotels or in one of the numerous
halls of Omaha; many an evil law lies under the turf
where the daisies grew, because some committee of
orignt and earnest business men reported to a conven
tion unfavorably and some one slipped down to Lincoln with the
chloroform Jug.
Co-operation among dealers is no mere idle talk among the
retailers of Nebraska who have organized these associations. It Is a
feature of the business world as it is represented within the bound
aries of the state. When one of these organizations, such as the
lumbermen, hardware dealers, butter makers, Jewelers, druggists
or hotel keepes decides on a policy it means deflnlt plans for the
future conduct of the particular line of business and some of the
associations go so far as to lay down a code of trade ethics which
must be followed by the members or they will be asked kindly, but
firmly, for a resignation.
' General prosperity in the state, competition of outside concerns
usually doing business by mall, unscrupulous dealers and to better
- deal with transportation companies, are a few of the reasons for the
existence of a state organization in almost ever line of trade. Per
baps the first is the foremost. The dealers are usually prosperous
and feel they want to come together with other men In the same line,
where they can have a big clearing house of ideas and all take home
a share of the big heap of knowledge which will be generously passed
to all those who listen. Some of the organizers contend, however,
that necessity drove them to organization, that Ihey had organised
brains against the individual retail merchant and they had to or
ganize to combat competitors and the men higher up who make and
Job the merchandise the retailer sells.
The Nebraska Retail Hardware Dealers' association met in
Omaha for four days of last week. It is a very serious organization.
One of the most earnest which meets in the city, and one of the only
ones which has executive sessions where the public is not admitted
to learn the troubles and secrets of trade. The association is com
posed of 500 of the busiest and most successful retail dealers In
hardware in the country, and officered by men who have made a
success of their own business and been chosen to head an organiza
tion which is making definite plans almost rules for those to fol
low who are not so successful. The hardware dealers, like the lum
ber dealers of the state and other trade organisations, have an in
surance company which is mutual, and this year they wear buttons
which say 33 . This means' the Insurance company Is In such good
shape that It will be to refund this year 11 per cent of the amount
paid in premiums.
Perhaps no line of business in the country has a more genuine
grievance against the mail order honses than the hardware dealers.
This trouble was the nightmare of dealers until the state organiza
tion was perfected and the dealers got together and reasoned among
themselves, that if commerce had made a condition which threatened
to put them out of business, certainly somewhere commerce had a
way of letting them escape. Hundreds of dealers have met catalogue
house competition successfully and others are getting wise. Clear
back of the troubles of the hardware dealers are those of the manu
facturers. For years the retailers have seen carloads of catalogues
fom mall order houses placed In the hands of their customers, giving
the price on everything they had in stock. And the price quoted is
usually about what the retailer must pay a wholesaler for the article.
This Is a hard thing for a customer to understand. But it is all in
the buying power of the mall order house. Some of the big "cat"
houses are able to buy almost the entire output of a small factory.
u Suppose it is some patent can-opener. The factory is making 10,000
per month and selling them to the jobbers for 6 cents each in small
- - M- J
i (
President, Loup City.
'Jy -j
Falrbury, Retiring President
n.f ?7
Secretary, Lincoln.
r. AW..-V
quantities. The Jobber sells them for 7 cents to the retailer and the
retailer gets 10 cents. The mall order bouse agrees to buy the out
put of the factory for one year, 120,000 can-openers, at 6 cents each
or even at 4 cents each and pay the freight. The can-opener is
listed in the big catalogue at 6 cents and the country merchant who
wants 10 cents because he paid 7 cents and the freight on the article,
is thought to be a gentlemanly robber.
Not to the small things like can-openers is this tremendous buy
ing power of the catalogue houses confined, but to paint, washing
machines, sewing machines, bicycles, phonographs, sanitary couches,
iron beds and ranges. Some manufacturers have discontinued sell
ing to the houses altogether; others cannot get their goods handled
by first class Jobbers at any price as long as they continue to sell to
the catalogue houses not called the pirates of trade, while still other
Jobbing houses have come to the rescue of the retailer and studied
the lines offered by the catalogue houses, duplicating them in almost
every instance and enabling the retailer to sell the identical article
advertised in the catalogue at less than the mall order house offers
it and also saving the freight.
This is the experience of an enterprising dealer from Allen, who
has assisted in working out the problem.,. It reads like a romance to
the other dealers In the state because it Is such a come back at the
"cat" houses:
For months the dealer noticed sewing machines coming to Allen
to farmers and others . He made a little examination and found sev
eral machines had been shipped In for $14.75 each and the freight
was $1.90 to $2.40, making an average of about $17 for the ma
chine when the customer loaded It in his wagon. The firm opened
correspondence with his jobber and the wholesaler was wide-awake
and waiting for the order. After a little waiting the wholesaler
found where he could buy the machines at a price which enabled
him to sell them to the retailers at Allen for $12.50, the retailer pay
ing the freight. Big bills were printed, showing a cut of the ma
chine, identically the same sewing machine as listed In the cata
logues for $14.75, and the retailer offered the machines in lots of one
or a dozen for $14.25, a clear saving of from $2.40 to $3 on the ma
chine. In a short time the dealer had sold enough of the machines
to make all the wedding clothes and then all the baby clothes around
Allen, Neb., for the next ten or fifteen years.
This Idea looked good and the Allen firm was not stingy with
it The wholesalers also used It and during the year dealers have
tried it with paint, phonographs, shears, baby carriages, and one
hardware dealer who has a general store tried it with shirts and
gave each man and boy in his community an opportunity to buy the
same black sateen shirt at his store for 98 cents which the catalogue
bouse wanted $1.18 for.
Thus the organization has evolved a scheme for getting the
goods which the mall order house advertises and selling them for a
little less, or at laast for the same and saving the freight to the
customer. Large printing houses have been secured by some whole
salers, to prepare to get out big bills with pictures "Just like the
catalogues have," and these are generously distributed by the mer
chants to their customers on rural routes whenever there is a feeling
that too much money Is leaving the community.
No trade organization that meet in Omaha gives such an elabo
rate exposition simply that members may see all the latest articles In
the hardware line. The Auditorium was occupied this year and the
exhibits consisted of everything from a "fish hook to a motor boat."
or better, "from lightning rods to furnaces." The exposition serves
a good many purposes, according to the hardware dealers. The ar
rangement of exhibits gives an Idea of window trimming and store
decoration, while the experienced demonstrators who travel with the
exhibits are able to point out the difference between real hardware
and some of the "cheap stuff" made to sell at racket stores and by
mall order houses.
"Coming to Omaha and looking over the hardware exposition is
equal to a trip through twenty factories," said a hardware dealer
after visiting the Auditorium. "To see what we found exhibited
there would require a trip from Buffalo to St. Louis, back to Chi
cago avd Minneapolis, with a stopover in Des Moines and Omaha;
then a trip out to Denver. As It Is all the manufacturers start out
each year with a big exhibit and go to all the state dealers' associa
tions. They put on exhibits which equal those In the salesrooms of
their factories or warehouses."
This week he jewelers are coming to town and there will be
on exhibit "gold, gold, bright and yellow, hard and cold."
The Nebraska Retail Jewelers' association is a "3-year-old year
ling,", but a strong and healthy organization, having more than 100
members and ambition to have 500 by the end of the present year.
As the national association meets in Omaha during August, and
all Nebraska will aBsist Omaha entertain the jewelers from all parts
of the United States, the incentive for becoming a member of the
association never was stronger than this year. Those who were re
sponsible for the organization feel the time has come when the asso
ciation must grow. "We'll decide the goodness and cussedness of it
this time," says the announcement of the Omaha meeting. "The
association has no money to spend sending yos extra notices, so
keep this one, close to .your heart of "purse and planB' and come on
the earliest train."
While the association undoubtedly trains Its members to guide
one, three of a kind or a pair of diamonds to their ultimate destina
tion, the real object of the organization is more serious. Its object
is to support the work of the National Retail Jewelers' association
in the bettering of trade conditions, regulation and maintenance of
prices and per cent of retail profit and the settlement of grievances.
The Jewelers claim the organization has already demonstrated that
there is no trade abuse which cannot be righted if halt the retail
Jewelers are enrolled In the association work. Already a better feel
ing exists among the retailers and they don't even treat each other
like competitors, but co-operate to put down the seller of gold-looking
watches and traah which is handled by illegitimate dealers and
mail order houses. The national association, with the assistance of
such organizations as that of Nebraska, has stopped the selling for
solid gold anything not ten karat or better. Until the Jewelers' asso
ciations took the matter up some dealers sold for solid gold rings
and watch cases about six karat, if the gold in them could be ex
pressed in karats at all. Under pressure from the associations, manu
facturers have been forced to establish a minimum selling price and
eliminate restrictive prices. Wholesalers who formerly sold at re
tall have been forced in one way or another to stop the practice and
give the retailers the field.
Almost all Jewelers have been led to handle only price protected ,
goods and Jobbers sell only to those who keep faith In these matters.
In years gone by some jewelers and mail order houses bought rings,
as an instance, for $5 and engraved them, put them la a box and
wrapped them for $5.60. making them a "leader" for advertising
purposes. This made life a burden for the retailer and took away
legitimate profits simply to give some more or less enterprising mer
chant an opportunity to advertise Lis business to the detriment of
every other Jeweler in the trade. Long descriptions of Inferior
goods which make people believe they are securing a Yukon gold
mine for $1.98 no longer sell Jewelry. The associations have caught
many houses which advertised standard goods and substituted in
ferior ones. They paid the penalty when the organizations got
after them and as a result the Jewelry trade is said to be more free
from deception than ever before.
Malicious competition among country dealers is disappearing
and the secretary of the association frequently prevents a costly
price war which formerly made enemies of all Jewelers in a town.
What the busy business men of Nebraska do when they visit
Omaha is a secret, but because of this more and more wives are
coming to the conventions with their husbands. Few conventions
meet in Omaha that do not have from fifty to one hundred women
Men and women are both entertained by local members of the
different crafts or by the wholesalers of Omaha, while almost every
one can find something, to do for self-entertainment. Automobile
rides are taken whenever the weather will permit which Is about
325 days In the year. The sun does not shine all the time in Omaha,
but that Is unnecessary with more than 100 miles of 'paving over
which the automobiles may take visitors most any day. Visits to
the parks in the summer time, the theaters in winter, open house
at the clubs of the city and dinner prrtles and banquets at the hotels
are the usual form of entertainment.
The wholesale district of Omaha is an endless attraction to the
visitors, who may go through the big warehouses not only of the
firms of which they buy goods, but see the houses handling other
lines.- Many of the largest houses of Omaha are In new buildings
which afford the very latest conveniences in business house furnish
ings, and to see the armies of men and women at work furnishes
many, suggestions for betterment of system and store management
at home.
Few trade organizations meet la Omaha, but what the country
merchants are frank to admit that perhaps some of the fault la
with them when they fall to meet competition. They admit their
windows are not trimmed and their clerks are behind the time when
it comes to salesmanship; that they extend credit for long terms and
frequently get overstocked with certain lines which they do not
know how to dispose of to advantage.
A school of salesmanship, window trimming and business sys
tem is going on all around the visitors - to Omaha. They walk
through one of the big retail establishments and see how goods are
displayed, pass many hundred feet of plate glass where windows are
trimmed by men drawing salaries equal to the income of a country
merchant; they see the "bargain counters" where the metropolitan
merchants can dispose of anything from a paper of pins to a Wilton
rug, and very few merchants visit Omaha or any other modern city
but go back to their own stores and make some changes.
In the opinion of the men who head the organizations, the best
tonlo which it is possible for country merchants to take to make
them think more of their business and desire to expand it, Is to meet
with their trade organization in Omaha.
Jewelers Who Are Leaders in the Association Movement in Their Trade
Ex-Prestdent Amerlcaa National Retail Jewelers'
Association. Furt Dodge, la. ,
y 7
President Nebraska Association, Beatrice.
I !
", 1 -
National Secretary, Dexter, la.
' " Takes Train Over Torrent "
ONE hundred Uvea hung In the balance for the frac
tion of a second while Engineer W. A. Baldwin
of the Santa Fe's San Bernardino local hesitated
as to whether he should follow his fireman's ex
ample and Jump, or stick by his engine and pilot it over
the fast settling bridge at Avenue Thirty-five and the Ar
royo Seco, In southern California.
The heavy rains swelled the stream la the arroyo
from a rivulet until it was a raging torrent, higher than
since the flood of 1889. The water cut under the con
crete piling of thet Santa Fe's new steel bridge and it be
gan to sag in the middle. Then came the train of five
cars from San Bernardino slipping down grade from Pas
adena, "
8everal hundred people living In the vicinity were out
watching the stream eat away its bank and when they
saw the approaching train they made every attempt to
warn it in time. . Umbrellas and handkerchiefs were
waved, hats thrown in the air, while men and women
screamed in desperation, hoping that the engineer would
hear or see In time to stop.
W. A. Baldwin was at the throttle and be both saw
and heard, but to stop waa beyond human power, (or the
rails were wet and slippery. He did bis best, but failed,
and when his fireman. Fred Walker, saw that the train
was going onto the sagging bridge he Jumped.
Baldwin had been in tight places before, and as he
hesitated hands ot the reverse, lever and airbrake he
derided what to do
It was the deed of a master hand, for had the train
hit the bridge at high speed or jarred as It went across,
down the cars and their passengers would have gone Into
the roaring waters.
As soon as the train stopped hundreds of people, who
had made so great an effort to warn Baldwin, crowded
around to congratulate him on his nerve and remarkable
escape. And in sptte of the rain it waa such a reoeptlcu
as falls to the lot of few men. Los Aagelea Times.