P.H. Landis

Bulletin No.


Document Type



Department of Rural Sociology


Considerable interest has been shown in recent years in the future prospect for the small farm trade center. This interest has grown out of the threat of modern means of communication and transportation as well as that of the growing prosperity of the larger city to the welfare of the small town. Sociologists have approached the problem with a view to learning what is happening in various sections of the country, and on the basis of the knowledge acquired, being able to predict what the immediate future holds for the small town as a trade center and market for the farm family. Studies dealing with various angles of the problem of changing town country relations covering widely different areas throughout the United States have been made. Among these is a study entitled South Dakota Town-Country Trade Relations, 1901-1931,2 which summarizes the influences of such factors as changes in merchandising methods, the growth of cities, the rising standard of rural living, the growth of new types of chain stores, and other factors, all of which have greatly modified in recent years, the small trade center in South Dakota and the farmer's relationship with it. In carrying out the previous study it was discovered that existing trade centers in South Dakota represent a select group, for during a period of approximately thirty years, several hundred new centers have appeared and several hundred others have disappeared. The discovery of this fact led to the present study which is concerned with learning the reasons why one trade center disappears while another nearby trade center succeeds, why a new trade center appears within a few miles distance to take the place of an older but unsuccessful one. Closely allied with this problem is that of why certain centers have grown beyond expectation while others have remained stationary, and still others have declined. In this study an attempt is made to answer these questions in at least a general way. It would be impractical to treat all trade centers in the state individually, but directing attention to general tendencies may have some predictive value for the individual trade center as well as for the individual mercantile enterprise.


South Dakota trade centers, trade center growth, trade center decline, transportation



Publication Date









South Dakota Experiment Station, South Dakota State College of Agriculture and Mechanical Arts