Shops and stores
There are three major types of retailing, two of which have buildings that the customer can visit to do business with. The first is counter-service, once the only type of shop, but now rare except for selected items (see below). The second, and now more widely used method of retail, is self-service. Quickly increasing in importance are online shops, the third type, where products and services can be ordered for physical delivery, downloading or virtual delivery.
Even though most retailing is done through self-service, many shops offer counter-service items, e.g. controlled items like medicine and liquor, and small expensive items.
Shops used to deal with just one type of article. In the nineteenth century, in France, arcades were invented, which were a street of several different shops, roofed over. From this there soon developed, still in France, the notion of a large store of one ownership with many counters, each dealing with a different kind of article was invented; it was called a department store. In cities, these were multi-story buildings which pioneered the escalator. In the mid-twentieth century in the United States there developed the mall, midway between the arcade and the department store. A mall consists of several two-storey department stores linked by arcades (many of whose shops are owned by the same firm under different names). All the stores rent their space from the mall owner. Malls do not need to have shops where the customer enters a main entrance to enter specific shops, but there are strip malls which are 'outside' malls. These are often connected to supermarkets or big box stores. Also, in high traffic areas, other businesses may lease space from the supermarket or big box store to sell their goods or services from.
A recent development is a very large shop called a superstore. Local shops can be known as brick and mortar stores in the United States.
Many shops are part of a chain: a number of similar shops with the same name selling the same products in different locations. The shops may be owned by one company, or there may be a franchising company that has franchising agreements with the shop owners.
Some shops sell second-hand goods. Often the public can also sell goods to such shops. In other cases, especially in the case of anonprofit shop, the public donates goods to the shop to be sold (see also thrift store). In give-away shops goods can be taken for free.
The term retailer is also applied where a service provider services the needs of a large number of individuals, such as withtelephone or electric power.