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WWII brought strict price controls

Frederick B. Jones writes a column in the Lightning about World War II in Henderson County. Frederick B. Jones writes a column in the Lightning about World War II in Henderson County.

Unnecessary and costly regulations are a frequent and popular topic for discussion among small business owners in today's world.

During World War II with blackouts, rationing, price controls, and a scarcity of almost everything, small businesses had very little time to devote to running their businesses. Consider these price control rules issued by the Advisory Price committee of the County War Price and Rationing Board as reported in the Times-News on Jan. 15, 1943. They were labeled as: "Seven simple rules by which retailers may know whether they are complying with the federal war-time price control act."
1. Assume that all your prices are controlled unless you know the opposite is true.
2. Do not charges prices higher than you charged in March, 1942, unless you know that you are legally entitled to do so. (In a few cases the base period is some months before March, while for a list of agricultural commodities, it is the period September 28, October 2, 1942.)
3. Especially do NOT assume that you are always permitted to use last year's mark-up; in many cases that will give you a price that is not correct.
4. Be sure that you have on file in your store a complete list of the highest prices you charged for ALL commodities or services in March,1942. Do not, FOR ANY REASON WHATSOEVER, make any change in the list AT ANY TIME. Changes or additions should be added as supplementary sheet to the list.
5. Be sure that you have filed with this committee a list of the highest prices you charged for "cost-of- living" commodities and services in March 1942.
6. Before the tenth of each month file with this committee a supplementary list showing your ceiling prices of new cost-of-living commodities and services which you offered for the first time during the previous month.
7. Be sure to post plainly and clearly AT THE POINT WHERE THE GOODS ARE DISPLAYED your ceiling prices for cost-of-living commodities.
Just imagine the Davenports in Mills River, the Peaces in Flat Rock, or any of the other Mom and Pop operations throughout the county scrambling to figure out what a "cost-of-living" commodity was or trying to make a list of prices charged almost a year earlier. But they tried to comply and must have satisfied the local board because there were few charges filed for violating price controls.