It’s 2010, and now we think getting a combo meal for somewhere in the neighborhood of $5 is an amazing deal.
I decided to stick with the fast-food theme I started yesterday after coming across an article on Wired.com about businesses known as Automats.
Automats, specifically the chains set up by Horn & Hadart, were part fast-food, part cafeteria and part vending machine all wrapped in one.
Customers could get a cup of coffee or slice of pie for a nickel by putting the coin in a slot. There was plenty of other food too – from sandwiches to turkey and mashed potatoes.
Automats had hundreds of little windows to food lined up across the walls. Back then, you could put together an entire three-course meal for about 50-cents, and then take it to a table to sit down for some chow.
It was like a massive version of those lazy-susan vending machines with sandwiches and apples inside. People where I used to work called the one in our break-room ”The Wheel of Death” because they assumed you had a good chance of getting food poisoning. However, I myself was a frequent patron of the so-called Wheel of Death because I usually forgot my lunch on the counter at home. The food only made me sick two or three times.
Believe it or not – Horn & Hadart Automats were extremely popular in places like Philadelphia and New York City form their beginning in 1912 through the 1960s. Unfortunately, while there are still a few automats in existence, the rise of fast-food chains like McDonald’s led to the end of Horn & Hadart in 1990.
The story of the automat is a good reminder for the small business owner.
Your genius idea of today might become a side-note in history tomorrow if you fail to keep looking for ways to adapt – especially in this day and age. Things change so fast it can be hard to keep up.
Think about the telephone. 10 years ago, I didn’t even have a cell phone. Now how many people are dumped their land lines and use only their cell phone? Plenty! I’m one of them.
What if AT&T had decided it was going to stand it’s ground and never got into the cell phone business at all? I’m thinking AT&T stock wouldn’t have needed a recession to see it’s stock plummet.
Don’t be afraid of change. Yes, it’s not easy. But wouldn’t you rather change the way you do business than go out of business?
No matter what industry you’re working in – you have to be aware of what your customers want.
That’s why at The Folder Store, we want to keep the lines of communication open and buzzing!
Let us know when you see a way we can better serve you! We want our business to meet your needs. That’s why we offer a design tool so you can create your own presentation folders, and we also offer our own design services with people who are ready to put together the perfect marketing folders just for you, your ideas, and your company!
No matter what you choose. We’ll work with you to make sure you’re happy with the end result. That means if we see an obvious issue with your order or design – we’re going to let you know about it before it goes to print and ships.
Because when you do have new ideas for putting your company at the leading edge – you’re going to need something slick to package it all up! So order your affordable marketing folders from The Folder Store when it’s time to make those presentations.
What do you think automats could have done to stay in business? Leave a comment and share your ideas!
Watch the YouTube video below to learn more about the Horn and Hadart Automats. Or check out Smithsonian.com.
Image: Berenice Abbot/HO/AP/Courtesy Museum of the City of New York