My earliest shop was made by the American toy company, Cass, in 1914. It's constructed of cardboard, with a little wooden counter, and measures about 9 inches tall. The base the counter rests on folds up into the store for storage. The cough drop box on the top shelf is original to the store, while the other pieces, while old, are not, but they seemed suitable. It's amazing to me that such a fragile little toy has survived for so long.
On the bottom shelf is one of my oddest old dollhouse food items, a 1 1/2 inch cardboard and tin can of "Heinz Vegetable Salad in Mayonnaise." I nominate it for Most Disgusting-Sounding Canned Food Item ever conceived. Blecch.
Next is my 1920s Danish grocery shop, staffed by a 5 inch Steiff bear. The shop is 16 inches wide by 7 1/2 inches tall. It's made of wood, with a separate counter, and retains many of its original items.
This shop is unusual in that it features a display window, and the back is printed with advertising:
"Could I interest you in some Knakbrod?"
Here is the first antique dollhouse shop I acquired: a 1930s German Art Deco style grocery. Made of wood and measuring 14 1/2 inches wide by 8 inches tall, it came with lots of old products, and I've added some more. Some of my loveliest, and oldest, dollhouse food is in this shop, including plaster meats, sausages, and cakes from the late 1800s-1920s.
My 5 inch Steiff bear staffs the cheese and sausage counter:
A closeup of the cake shelves:
Some closeups of the meat and cake items, all very old German-made plaster pieces:
This next shop is a lithographed tin grocery made in America by Wolverine Toys in the 1930s. It's the largest of my shops, measuring 20 1/4 inches wide by 12 inches tall. The two lithographed side panels fold in to close the shop up for storage. It's missing its separate counter, but the phone and scale, as well as most of the products, are original to this set.
Both side panels feature fantastic illustrations of children shopping in the store. On the left side, a little boy in denim overalls and a cap purchases a can of tomatoes and box of tea (?) from a clerk with a '30s platinum marcelled hairdo:
The right side panel shows an adorable little girl choosing sausages at the butcher's counter:
My smallest dollhouse grocery shop is this one, made in America in the 1940s, wooden, and measuring only 10 inches tall by 4 3/4 inches wide. I believe almost all the products are original to this piece, with the exception of a few Grandmother Stover's and Dolly Dear accessories. The counter features an attached "paper roll" (made of wood) on the left side.
The week's shopping, ready to be bagged.
My most recent, and one of my most unusual, shops, is this 1950s-early '60s British "Circle Grocery", also made of wood. It's quite large, measuring 15 inches wide by 10 inches tall, and distinctively painted in red and turquoise. Being British, it naturally came with lots of packages of tea, as well as many other interesting pieces. The groceries upon the counter are a much smaller scale than those on the shelves, but it all came together and seems to work out. The golliwog sticker on the counter was a premium from Robertson's, which I believe was a preserves manufacturer.
The itty bitty Ovaltine can and Lyons Ready-Mix Pudding box
are particularly cute: