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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 29

Early Closing Association

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Early Closing Association.

A well-attended meeting of Drapers' Assistants was held in the Temperance Hall on Monday evening to receive the Committee's Report, and to transact other business connected with the Association. The Secretary reported that—

"At a meeting of Drapers' Assistants, held in the Temperance Hall on the 28th November last, it was unanimously resolved to form an Early Closing Association, having for its object the shortening of the hours of business on Saturdays."

Having been proposed and seconded, the Secretary, Treasurer, and Committee were duly elected for six months, and they signified their willingness to accept office for that term.

The Committee reported that, after careful consideration, it was resolved to hold a public meeting in the Temperance Hall, on Wednesday, the 20th February, with a view of obtaining public opinion. This meeting was held under the chairmanship of the Hon. H. S. Chapman, supported by several clergymen and influential citizens. Of the result of this meeting the Committee feel that it is unnecessary to dwell; suffice it to say that on all hands it was admitted to be a most successful one, and furnished, if wanted, a still further undeniable proof that the Association would receive the support of all classes of the community.

The Committee have very great pleasure in reporting that in less than four months from the formation of the Association the first fruits of their labours appeared in an advertisement issued by Messrs. Brown, Ewing and Co., stating their intention of closing at 6 p.m. instead of 9 every Saturday after the 23rd March. A fortnight or so afterwards—viz., on the 29th March—advertisements simultaneously appeared from Messrs. Herbert, Haynes and Co. and Kirkpatrick, Glendining and Co. notifying the same change of hours; page 2 and these names have since been supplemented by those of Messrs. R. Saunders and Co., Messrs. McClennahan and McCuaig, and Mr. J. Martin.

The Commitee doubt not that the members will with them think it is a matter for congratulation that the appeals to the public to support this social reform were so speedily, and they confidently believe so permanently, responded to by the two interested parties—to wit, the buyer and seller; for the former it meant the performance of a duty to society by discouraging the pernicious habit of late shopping, for the latter it may have meant risking public support.

The Committee would have indeed been pleased could they have coupled the names of Messrs. A. and T. Inglis, Messrs. Thomson, Strang and Co., and Messrs. Hallenstein Brothers with the early closing houses, but as such a reform could hardly be expected in so short a space oftime, the Committee look forward to the consummation of their wishes ere long; their reason for so doing is, that the public freely and fully approve of the measure, and the few strangling Saturday night customers are those whom the Committee would with all respect call thoughtless rather than necessitous. It is difficult to trace any plausible reason for the houses who still hold out The public will not support an opponent of its direct wishes, and a steady inspection proves that Saturday night trade is virtually nil.

The Committee reported that sundry advertisements had, appeared in morning, evening, and weekly papers; that some 32,000 handbills had been distributed; that 500 posters had appeared on the different hoardings; and what is commonly known as sandwich-board men had paraded the streets; and they trusted the tone of all these appeals had been in accordance with the views of the members of the Association.

The Committee had much pleasure in placing the balance sheet (duly audited) of receipts and expenditure for the first six months of the Association on the table. The subscriptions collected from 118 of the employes in the various houses for the six months amounted to £102 18s, and the expenditure to £95 8s, leaving a balance in hand of £7 10s.

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The Report then gave a list of attendances at committee meetings, notice of re-election of office-bearers, and other formal matters; and concluded as follows :—

"The Committee, whilst assuring you that to the best of their ability nothing has been left undone to promote the success, of the Early Closing Association, trust that what has been done has met with your approval."

Upon the applause following the reading of the Report sub-siding, the proposition that the Report as read be passed was made, accompanied with congratulatory remarks on the early closing houses, and a re-echo of the Committee's desires regarding the non-closers. It was ably seconded, the speaker making, some allusion to the finances of the Association, which he thought would; be conclusive proof that, although not called upon as suggested by antagonists to the movement at the onset, to forego their pay as with the working classes, they were ready to pay for their whistle without flinching. The motion having been put to the meeting, it was carried nem. con.

The proposition that the Association should continue its efforts wits warmly received, and the continuation of the same rate of ' subscription as hitherto collected to enable the Committee to push on its work was adopted by general acclamation.

In a very hearty and appropriate manner it was proposed that a special vote of thanks, as from the general meeting of subscribers, be accorded to "those gentlemen who had assisted at the public meeting, in the pulpit, in the Press, and otherwise in establishing this social reform, suggesting that the Hon. Secretary should forward a copy of this resolution to the following gentlemen :—Rev. C. Byng, Yen. Archdeacon Edwards, Rev. A. R Fitchett, Rev. J. Gow, Rev. Lindsay Mackie, Rev. Dr. Roseby Rev. Dr. Stuart, John Bathgate, Esq., Hon. H. S. Chapman, J. Aitken Connell, Esq., Robert Gillies, Esq., R. H. Leary, Esq., J. P. Maitland, Esq., Richard Oliver, Esq., C. S. Reeves. Esq., Hon. Robert Stout, M.H. R., A. C. Strode, Esq., and Henry Tewsley, Esq.

In seconding the proposition, reference was made to the great lever the clergy had in their hands. The movement being a social page 4 one, and not one of employer versus employed, it was clearly within the bounds of pulpit oratory as much as editorial remark or newspaper controversy.

A Member suggested that the proceedings and a report in a condensed form should be printed or advertised. It was due to the public who had supported the Association by their early shopping, and also to the employers who had started the movement. It should also, he thought, emanate from the Association as a body, for it must be remembered that close on 150 persons benefited by the already closing houses; of course indirectly, many of the assistants being family men, it was a boon extending to hundreds.

Having been put in form of a resolution, it was carried unanimously.

Some discussion here arose as to the small total receipts after 6 o'clock of the non-closing houses, easily obtainable by the salesmen comparing books, but the Chairman remarked that the Association was not started in an antagonistic feeling to the employers, and he could not sec that any good could come of these remarks. It was a difficult question to decide whether the seller or buyer was in the wrong. He did not think (apart from the natural desire of the individual members to sustain the credit of their respective houses), that it was in the province of the Association to coerce the public to buy where perhaps they might not feel disposed, or to endeavour to dissuade from buying at their own particular establishment, because it happened to be kept open to unreasonable hours. All the Early Closing Association had to do was to keep on agitating the public to shop before 6 o'clock at all houses, and eventually it would be found more desirable to close at 6 p.m. Although the Early Closing Association was gone about by a body of drapers' assistants, he had good authority for saying that from the Southern Market Reserve to the Leith, all classes of shopkeepers were admitting that the business formerly done on Saturday night was now done early in the day, or on some other day in the week.

A cordial vote of thanks was passed to the "Press," for the liberal manner in which it reported the public meeting, for its leaders and locals, and its disposal of correspondents columns.

A hearty vote of thanks was also passed to the Committee, with wish as for its future success.