The Simple Dollar Weekly Roundup: Keedoozle Edition

I’m always fascinated by ideas that are attempted way before their time. My favorite one recently has to do with grocery stores.

In the 1930s (!), there was an attempt at opening a chain of fully automated grocery stores (called Keedoozle). In a Keedoozle, all of your dry goods were displayed in glass cases in the store and you could examine them by flipping a switch to rotate them. If you wanted the item, you merely put a paper “key” into the slot in the case, hit a button, and a special hole was punched into your key. When you were ready to check out, you took your “key” (which had punched holes for several different items) to the cashier, who ran it through another machine, which caused the items you want to come rolling down a conveyor belt to you and your total to be quickly calculuated.

In the 1930s.

Unsurprisingly, there were some significant technical issues with this, but beyond that, customers just weren’t ready or willing to do this at the time. It was just a step too far and the chain failed in the 1940s.

The funny thing is that we’re just now moving in this direction, with self-checkouts and other “new” ideas at grocery stores. Honestly, if it meant lower prices, I’d love it if a grocery store did things this way.

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