Federal Writers' Project – Life Histories/2024/spring/Section13/George A. Twiddy

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Biography[edit | edit source]

George A. Twiddy was born in the late 19th century, around 1885. In 1939, the time of the interview, he was about 55. At 16 years old in 1900 he started work at C.H. Robinsons Fair Store after school and on weekends, performing menial labor for a salary of $1.50 an hour. His duties included cleaning spittoons and sweeping horse droppings. He did similar work at Sawyer & Jones hardware store and then at Jones Raper & Co., a dry goods and clothing store. In 1907 he became a full-fledged shoe salesman at department store R. J. Mitchell, working there for seven years until he co-founded his own retail business in 1914, which he was still running in 1939 during the interview. The advent of new technologies, such as the automobile, continued to force Twiddy to adapt new business strategies. He purchased his own Model T Ford in 1924, and did not believe in upgrading to a new model until absolutely necessary. Another societal change that affected his business was the sales tax, which he embraced as a way to discreetly mark up prices. The emergence of chain stores posed a challenge to his business, and forced him to focus on interpersonal relationships with his customer base and devise new marketing strategies to stay afloat. Despite his efforts, he struggled with debts and was forced to tighten credit. In the 1930s, he built a large house and offered lodging and breakfast to travelers as an extra revenue source, which he maintained with his wife. Twiddy was involved with his church and community, and had at least one son, who was high-school age at the time of the interview.