We had merchants or vendors visiting the households with their merchandise.. even the Legendary Kabuliwallah of Tagore was of that genre...
These people were not just merchants, they were friends and harbingers of a lot of tidings from one place to another...
In fact some such vendors used to visit each house of their customers on some fixed days whether there was any purchase or not..
There was credit, there was ever barter, and of course friendly bargain, and our womenfolk would give them refreshments, and even though there would be noisy bargain and bickering, they were often paid more than the worth of the merchandise..
The value of the social interaction with such vendors and hawkers was the key element..
In the famous Valli thirumanan..(வள்ளித்திருமணம்) drama in Tamil, the hero, Lord Murugan visits Valli the heroine in the guise of a vendor of bangles..
The vegetable vendors were a hearty sight in the mornings in the agraharams..
Now the tribe has dwindled almost to nil..
But we still have some groceries-provision-tinklet shops in our villages..and we patronize them fully knowing that if we cross a highway and walk a few metres, we would find department stores, and we can place retail orders over telephone or mobile phones..
It is the slow and friendly vibes that count for old-timers..
It is not commerce, it is camaraderie..
It is a slice of life..