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company store

See also: company-store



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company store (plural company stores)

  1. (business) A retailer of provisions and general merchandise, owned by a firm which operates a mine or other industry nearby, and at which the firm's employees are required to shop, to pay high prices, and to make payments through payroll deductions or a truck system, typically resulting in the accumulation of considerable employee indebtedness.
    • 1912, L. Frank Baum, chapter 9, in Aunt Jane's Nieces on Vacation:
      Skeelty, who thought he knew how to manage these people, allowed every man, at the close of work on Saturday, to purchase a pint of whiskey from the company store, charging an exorbitant price that netted a huge profit.
    • 1917, Upton Sinclair, chapter 26, in King Coal:
      In the year and more that he had worked, faithfully and persistently, to get out coal for Peter Harrigan, he had never once been able to get ahead of his bill for the necessities of life at Old Peter's store. . . . [I]n any case, the best he could hope for in life was to work for some other Harrigan, and run into debt at some other company-store.
    • 1946, Merle Travis, Sixteen Tons (song):
      You load sixteen tons what do you get—
      Another day older and deeper in debt.
      Saint Peter don't you call me 'cause I can't go;
      I owe my soul to the company store.


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