Grocery Stores Reading Questions and Answers

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IELTS Reading Passage – The Innovation of Grocery Stores

The Innovation of Grocery Stores

Right from the 20th century, the United States had grocery stores in full swing. A person walks into the store and gets specific items from the cashier standing behind the desk. The cashier might pack the things which consist of dry food only. If they think of saving this time and go to the next shop, they need to request a delivery guy or themselves to give the slip of list of items they need to buy to the grocery store, then make the payment for the goods purchased. Such grocery stores generally keep only one brand for each and every good. When we go back to the past, many chain stores like the A & P Stores were fully functioning all day and consumed a lot of time. It was considered old-fashioned.

During the year 1885, a boy from Virginia state by name Clarence Saunders started working as a part-time employee as a clerk in a grocery store in his close vicinity. When he turned 14, he quit his school and studies to accept the shopkeeper’s offer – a Ml time work with facilities like room and board. Over the years, he got a new job and worked in an Alabama coke plant, followed by a Tennessee sawmill company before he came from the work at the grocery store. In 1900, when he attained nineteen years of age, he got nearly $35 per month for a salesman job in a wholesale grocery store. Throughout his years working in many grocery stores taking many roles, he realised that it was not comfortable and found it very inefficient for potential customers to purchase goods and items. Why because for more than several decades, we had computer systems like a big machine called CPU, a desktop, etc., and  it made shopping experiences quite varied compared to today. When someone enters a store, they might ask the counter (or looking for a clerk to answer their query) and give the list of items to buy, either verbally or in a notepad. When the customer was waiting, the clerk would immediately go back to the counter and the entire store, pick the products as given on the list. In a typical grocery store, some shelves seem to be so high that a mechanical or an electrical device has to be utilised—and take those back to the counter to check whether it is tallying or not, and finally packed, bagged or boxed. The process might be done a little faster by the customer calling or giving the list of items prior, or by the order placed were taken care of by a delivery guy on a motorcycle. On the other hand, it did not vary that much. Saunders, an attractive and innovative man, realised that this process of working would result in wasted time and money expense, so he had an out-of-the-box idea that created a revolution among the grocery industry that paved the way for a better shopping experience to the customers. 

In the year 1902, he migrated to Memphis place where he created his idea to develop a grocery cooperative at a wholesale level and a normal grocery store functioning full-time. For his new concept of “cafeteria grocery” Saunders split his grocery store into three different parts: 1) A front “lobby” like space for entrance and exit door and checkout areas. 2) A department exclusively for sales was designed in such a way to make customers stroll the aisles and choose the groceries they were looking for. Clearing unwanted employees, making way for an elaborate aisle display. Reorganising the entire store to make customers somehow see all of the products and above the shelving and separate compartments located in the sales department were “photo galleries” where managers or supervisors were allowed to look after the people without disturbing them. 3) And a separate section of his grocery store is the place allocated only for the clerks and other employees called the “stockroom” or “storage room” where you can find the big-size refrigerators that were situated to keep all items fresh from being perishable. The newly designed format made different people do shopping simultaneously and led to the earlier hidden part of extreme shopping. Though this type of shopping of the grocery market was completely different from other grocery store owners, the style set a new standard for the modern form of the grocery store, and later became a supermarket as we are witnessing today. 

On 6th of September, 1916, Saunders initiated a revolution of self-servicing in the USA by launching the first self-service process called Piggly Wiggly store. The address of the store is 79 Jefferson Street in Memphis, Tennessee has the luxury of its unique turnstile at the entrance. People make payments by cash and choose their required products from the different shelves available. It was totally unique at that time. When you enter a Piggly Wiggly store, customers do not need to wait for the clerks or shopkeepers. They were on their own. They were allowed to roam the store without any restrictions, look for the desired products and take what they needed. The price stamps on products at Piggly Wiggly were not available. On top of all, no one tried to convince people to purchase milk or biscuits. Moreover, the biggest advantage of the Piggly Wiggly was that customers could save money in the end. Thus, self-service was welcomed on a positive trend. “It’s beneficial for both the customer and shop owner because it reduces unnecessary costs,” observed George T. Haley, a senior professor at the University of New Haven and director of the Center for International Industry Competitiveness. There are a huge number of working men and women involved and most of the contribution is from their expenses before the grocery stores run to Piggly Wiggly and Alpha Beta. Piggly Wiggly cut the excessive fat.

Piggly Wiggly and the self-service idea paid off very well. Saunders after a short time started nine more stores in the Memphis place before completing the 1st anniversary. Almost all people welcomed the efficiency, simplicity, and above all cheap prices of food. Saunders immediately got patent rights for his idea of self-service and started to lend franchising Piggly Wiggly grocery stores across the place. It made a huge business growth and success, because of the advantages involved in self-service and franchising Piggly Wiggly, which eventually increased to nearly 1,300 stores by the year 1925. The Piggly Wiggly store sold $110 million—worth $1.5 billion today—in the groceries market alone, claiming it to be the third-biggest grocery retailer in the United States. Their company’s stock was also shown on the New York Stock Exchange, nearly doubling from mid-1922 to March 1923. Saunders was finally occupied with Piggly Wiggly. He tremendously worked in the overall design and planning of his stores, thus, invented the turnstile.

Later, down the line, Saunders was forced into bankruptcy in 1923 after an unexpected turn in the New York Stock Exchange, and he had to create the “Clarence Saunders sole-owner-of-my-name” network, which led to bankruptcy.

When he died in October 1953, he was in the process of developing plans for yet another fully-automatic store called the Foodelectric. However the store was initially planned to place it in two blocks from the first Piggly Wiggly store, but that was never opened at all. But his name was well-established when we came across the name of Piggly Wiggly.

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The Innovation of Grocery Stores Reading Questions

Questions 1 – 6

This reading passage has seven paragraphs, A – G.

Which paragraph contains the following information?

Write the correct letter, A – G, as your answer to each question.

Note: You may use any letter more than once.

  1. Saunders’ first setback 
  2. Saunders’ first revolution 
  3. Saunders’ triggering point 
  4. Expansion of Piggly Wiggly store 
  5. How grocery stores functioned back in the days 
  6. Saunders’ next invention 

Questions 7 – 11

Complete the sentences below.

Write NO MORE THAN TWO WORDS from the passage for each answer.

7. No one tried to _____________ people to purchase milk or biscuits.
8. He _____________ in the overall design and planning of his stores, thus, invented the turnstile.
9. Saunders ____________ a revolution of self-servicing in the USA.
10. Grocery industry paved the way for a better ____________ for the customers.
11. The new concept of “__________” Saunders split his grocery store into three different parts.

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Questions 12 – 13

Do the following statements agree with the information given in the reading passage?


YES, if the statement agrees with the claims of the writer
NO, if the statement contradicts the claims of the writer
NOT GIVEN, if it is impossible to say what the writer thinks about this

12. Massachusetts has the luxury of its unique turnstile at the entrance 
13. Piggly Wiggly store made customers to save money 

Also Read: IELTS Reading YES NO NOT GIVEN Questions

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Recommended Questions:

Renewable Energy IELTS Reading Question with Answer

The Innovation of Grocery Stores Reading Answers

1. Paragraph F
2. Paragraph D
3. Paragraph C
4. Paragraph E
5. Paragraph A
6. Paragraph G 
7. Convince
8. Tremendously worked
9. Initiated
10. Shopping experience
11. Cafeteria grocery
12. Not Given
13. Yes


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