Exploring the history of Phoenix, Arizona, just for fun. Advertising-free, supported by my patrons on Patreon. Thank you!

Getting a bargain buying stuff in old-time Phoenix


Like everyone, I enjoy getting a bargain. But as a typical man, I most often have no idea what the price of anything is supposed to be. I do have a vague idea that a box of Kleenex shouldn't cost me $123.00 (which I've seen on eBay) but other than that, I'm no mastermind of prices and bargains.

Since I collect old photos of Phoenix, one of my favorite fantasies had to do with how cheap things used to be. I would look at the prices and just marvel at what bargains you could get! And then I made the mistake of starting to research, and found that I was making the same mistake that a lot of people make - I was spending money based on how much money I have today, in the 21st Century.

As I write this, I have some change sitting next to me which would easily buy me all the food that I wanted at the New Palace Cafeteria in 1914. In fact, I could invite my friends, and they could have all they want. If someone wanted some fried sausage with mashed potatoes, I would give them fifteen cents with a smile. Apple pie? Sure! Here's a dime! Have two!

Of course if I could time-travel back to 1914 with my bag of change, I would have plenty of money. If I lived there, and had to accept the pay for work, it would be completely different. From what I'm learning, prices in Phoenix were pretty darned high compared to cheaper places, like San Francisco. That's because just about everything had to be shipped in from California, or somewhere else. I would probably be able to eat out as much then as I do now, which really isn't much. Restaurant food is much more expensive than if you bought food at the store and prepared it yourself. That much I've always known.

Still, it's a shame that I learned this. I enjoyed seeing gasoline at 17 cents, and a whole turkey dinner for 59 cents. But really, prices haven't changed all that much, it's just that the spending power of money has gone down.

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