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American Public Services

The United States offers its residents and newcomers alike a bewildering array of goods, from food shopping to baby clothing, and services, from rug cleaning to shoe repair.

For some goods and services, a few large “category killer” chains control the market. This is so in hardware and home improvement goods, as an example. Even in this area, however, smaller entrepreneurs and even “Mom and Pop” operations fill their own particular market niches. Competition for customers brings great variety to the marketplace, which means it is not always easy to choose where or how to acquire a product or arrange for a service.

If you want any product or service in the United States, you will have to do some work to familiarize yourself with the choices. Products and services vary greatly in quality, accessibility, price and suitability. Because America is so free, and because, in many respects, it has an unplanned, market economy, you will have to become an informed consumer to get the greatest value out of the American system.

The pages that follow give a detailed picture of the types of retail and service establishments you will find in the United States, followed by sections on sending letters and packages and a number of sections on telephones and communications. covers restaurants, hotels, and further retail and service establishments.

Next Section:Information Sources

Life in the USA Home Page.

Full Chapter Outline:
Information Sources
The Yellow Pages
Newspaper Advertising
Radio and Television Advertising
Trade and Civic Organizations
Consumer Resources
Public Libraries
The Internet

Hours of Operation

Retail Food
Farmers Markets
Convenience Stores
Specialty Food Stores
Food Labeling and Packaging

General Merchandise and Clothing
Department Stores
Discount Stores
Small Specialty Stores
How the Types of Stores Differ

Rent To Own

The Downtown Shopping Area

The Shopping Mall

Strip Shopping Centers

Category Killers

Warehouse Clubs

Outlet Centers and Malls

Catalogue and Internet Shopping

Street Vendors and Flea Markets

Thrift Shops

Yard and Garage Sales

Letters and Packages

The Post Office
United Parcel Service
Express Services
Facsimile (Fax) Services
Packing, Shipping and Mailbox Services
Telex and Telegraph
Messenger Services

The Telephone
Emergency Calls
Help Lines
Coin Telephones
Long Distance Service
Toll Free Service
Phone Card Calling
Cellular Phones
Facsimile (Fax) Machines
Modems and Computer Data
Telephone Answering Machines
Telephone Etiquette
Pay-Per-Minute Calls

Other Life In The USA Subject Area Sections:
American PeopleAmerican CultureRestaurants and ServicesAmerica EatsOrganizationsTransportationEveryday LifeGovernment and LawBusinessEducationRetirement and AgingLand, HistoryReligionMoneyCommunityMaking a LivingImmigrationMedical CareAmerican PlacesAmerican StoriesDeath in America