The year was 1927 and the future had hardly ever looked brighter for the City of Camden. Times were prosperous, business and industry were booming, and the city was full of recently constructed public buildings, civic improvements, schools, the new Delaware River bridge and its new highway to the suburbs. The stock market crash of 1929 and the Depression that followed were in the unimagined future.
It was in these times that Camden prepare for its 100th anniversary, and in this spirit of optimism that the city fathers under the direction of Mayor Winfield S. Price commissioned the booklet whose text you will find below.
Proximity of City to Philadelphia was Handicap until Merchants Brought Shops to High Modern Standard.
In no branch of business activity has the past ten years of growth and progress been more pronounced than in the Camden retail merchandising field. And by the same token, in no branch was there greater need for revolutionary changes.
The proximity of Camden to Philadelphia had for many years drawn a large proportion of South Jersey retail buyers over the Delaware to the “Big” city. Habit once formed is hard to break, and that was the case with residents of Camden and its suburbs in the matter of purchasing. Thousands labored under the thought it was necessary for them to travel to Philadelphia to properly make their purchases. In many instances the impression was without warrant.
It was a costly, patient-trying work. The educational process when applied to the public requires time. But determination, initiative and group cooperation in the end prevailed to puncture the home trade barriers.
Camden merchants today can boast of retail service which is successfully holding the goodwill of the South Jersey buyers after the educational campaign has brought them to the local stores.
The chief retailing streets of Camden are Broadway, Kaighn Avenue, Market Street, Federal Street, and Haddon Avenue. Along these thoroughfares will be found retail shops ranging from the big modern department store to the little specialist in some particular line. Many other streets have their stores for the convenience of the public, but, they deal largely in the trade of convenience- the dispensing of wares which the householder will buy “around the corner” irrespective of the nearness of larger establishments.
Camden merchants faced a double task. First, it was necessary for them to modernize their establishments and secondly- educate the buying public to its opportunities.