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Charles Schreiner, general merchandise: The story of a country store Hardcover – 1969
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Charles Schreiner was born on February 22, 1838, in Alsace-Lorraine, the border zone between Germany and France. In 1852, the Schreiners reached San Antonio and Charles would later join the Texas Rangers and learn the Texas landscape. After the Civil War, Schreiner settled near Kerrville, the location of a shingle-makers' camp. Schreiner decided the area needed a good country store and on Christmas Eve, 1869, he opened for business in a cypress board building measuring thirty by sixty feet. August Faltin, a German immigrant from Leipzig, put up the original capital of $10,000 for the Schreiner store. Haley describes Schreiner's early struggles and the store's inventory of such items as sugar, beer, whiskey, molasses, coffee, rice, tobacco, and medicines. Schreiner was a good businessman, trading and bartering for goods, safekeeping money at his store, and he was ready to buy whatever his customers brought in to sell. The most important trade of the Schreiner store during its pioneer years was with the ranchmen scattered to the West. Haley explains that Schreiner started buying cattle, sheep, and investing in the wool business.
After ten years, Captain Schreiner bought out Faltin for $50,000; in 1882 he built and moved into better quarters; in 1889 he enlarged his store again. Haley includes a chapter on Schreiner's customers, a most colorful cast of characters. Schreiner was a tough man to work for, but fair. He expected his employees to be disciplined and hard working. Schreiner spent nearly every waking hour at the store and Haley explains that the Captain was hesitant to give it up. Gradually and reluctantly, Captain Schreiner surrendered the management of his affairs to his sons. Following Schreiner's death in 1927, his oldest son, A.C. Schreiner, assumed management of the company.
Haley's work is somewhat limited, he covers seventy-five years in seventy pages, and once the store is established for the reader, Haley does not offer much more. The result is a rather undeveloped account of Schreiner and his store, essentially a preview of what could have been an intriguing volume of social history. Nevertheless, Haley weaves together several entertaining anecdotes, sayings, incidents, and stories, and gives a solid introduction to Charles Schreiner and his country store.