Hugh Martin & Son

Extract from 1871 Truck Report

Messrs. Martin's works are at Coatbridge, and they employ between 60 and 80 men. The pays are fortnightly; there is a store attached to the works, and an advance cash office independent of the regular office, while Mr. Martin or his son acts as advance clerk. The money which the workmen have previously received at the office is taken again at the shop from them through the day, the men being allowed to retain in cash a portion amounting to about 10%. Next morning a boy who acts as clerk in the office comes for the storeman's cash book and takes it away to compare with the cash in the office. The comparison is made by Mr. Martin; the book is copied off the storeman's book, and it lies before Mr. Martin when he is advancing the money. This is the only check, but Mr. Martin admitted that he knows the men and speaks to them when they come back for advances if they have not been to the store; and, that their books are generally stopped. This is the general principle upon which they do business at the store. There was considerable discrepancy between the statements of Mr. Martin and a former storekeeper with regard to the infraction, in one detail, of the Truck Act. Mr. Richard White, who had been for four years storeman, allowed that he had "many times" been applied to by workmen for lines directly without cash passing, and that it was "a frequent thing" at the store to respond to such applications. Mr. Martin denied this. The evidence of the storeman, (now a grocer and therefore a rival to a certain extent of the store), and of the owner of the works, conflict on this point. Mr. R. Tweeddale, another former storeman, admitted that lines were sometimes given without cash passing, but denied that this occurred habitually.

The following account of the prices was given by the witness Martin :-

I would say that as a general rule they sell a fairish article at a reasonable price; but the difference betwixt a store and a retail cash shop is this: a store may get in a supply of butter, for instance. Well, part of that butter is good, and there may be some bad lots among it. They sell the bad lots along with the good, whereas with the like of me when parties are not pleased with what is offered to them, I have to lay it aside and to sell it as I can.

Q When you were at the store did you use to sell the bad butter along with the good? - The stuff was there and I had to sell it.

Q Then you were just as bad as the rest when you were in the store? - As a matter of course.

Q Do you mean to say that the storekeepers have this advantage, that they can force their sales more than a retail tradesman can do? - Exactly so.

Q And there is no other difference between them? - No.

Q Is it not rather rough work selling at the stores? - Yes; they don't treat the people quite so civilly as in shops.