This blog explores the history of Phoenix, Arizona and a little bit of Los Angeles and San Francisco, California. This blog is not supported by advertising, it's supported by the generosity of my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

What a One Price Cash business was in old-time Phoenix - Hanny's


In 1915, Hanny's Clothing Store described itself as a "One Price Cash Clothier", which to our modern ears sounds very strange. You may wonder if there was just one price for everything in the store, like a dollar store? No, that's not it. And you may wonder if they only accepted cash, not checks? No, that's not it either. Let's take a closer look.

Nowadays there aren't many businesses that have more than one price for their stuff. The only place that springs to my mind is a car dealership, where the price is negotiable. I can't do that at my local Walmart, I pay the price that they ask, or I don't buy it. So a "one price" store would be a store that asks a price, and will not listen to negotiation. Pretty common now, not so common 100 years ago. Vic Hanny put a price on an item, and expected you to pay it, no haggling, no offers, take it over leave it. This may have offended a lot of people, who were used to entering into negotiations anytime they bought something, but as you can tell, it simplified the process, and it caught on. I'm still trying to think of any business that expects the customer to make an offer, and go back and forth, and right now all I can think of is a garage sale. Or maybe if you're buying stolen goods, or anything illegal? Anyway, having one price is what businesses do now. It's considered the respectable way to do business. The price is clearly marked.

The cash part of it has to do with credit, which was a very common practice back then. Instead of paying for something right when you bought it, like when I buy a bag of Apples at Walmart, most businesses at the time would let you pay for it later, usually with no extra charge. Businesses that didn't offer free credit were called "cash stores". Sure, you could pay with a check, but you couldn't just put something on your tab with a promise to pay for it later and walk out of the store. That's what they meant by "cash" - no credit. Grocery stores that asked for you to pay for something right there were often called "Cash and Carry", or even "Pay and Takit" (really, there was a store in Phoenix with that name).

Inside of Hanny's Store in the 1940s, Central Avenue location.

The big idea behind having one price and expecting customers to pay for things then and there was to have lower prices and build a better reputation, and it did that. Businesses no longer had to "carry" customers, by giving them free credit, and customers were more comfortable knowing that everyone paid the same amount for goods. Did that guy over there pay less for his tie than I did? No, we both paid the same price, he went to Hanny's! Sounds like a commercial, doesn't it?

This type of thinking built some strong businesses, and Hanny's was one of them. Vic Hanny's name was so well-respected in Phoenix that it was used long after Vic wasn't even associated with the store, long after it moved to its new location on 1st Street (where that building is now a restaurant). Vic's original store, as you can see on the ad, was on Central Avenue, between Washington and Adams. And he was a One Price Cash Clothier.