Greetings to all Schwegmann fans! As author of The People’s Grocer, I’d like to use this inaugural blog to explain what “Schwegmann Reflections” is all about. Over the course of writing this book I discovered many things of more than mere nostalgic interest that are today either little remembered or almost totally unknown. Prime among them is, of course, the life of John G. Schwegmann himself—including his heroic stature and pioneering accomplishments.
Yet it is not just the life and legacy of the great retailer and maverick politician that has been forgotten. Even more, his biography is intertwined with a whole host of issues and events of historical significance that have received little attention or remain largely unexplored.
Although I do devote discussion (and in some cases a considerable amount) to these various neglected issues and events in The People’s Grocer, still they seem to me to deserve extra emphasis and further elaboration. Thus, for instance, in future posts this blog will revisit and highlight such topics as modern New Orleans culture, the Bywater, retail history, discounting in the postwar world, the forgotten blot of fair trade laws on the American economic system, the ideal of consumers as citizens, and the controversial politics of the Superdome. I will also be reflecting on various underplayed or all but erased aspects of John Schwegmann himself—including his heroic fighting spirit, his unique, never-equaled approach to marketing, and the contemporary resonance of a businessperson in politics.