World Building: Archaic Stores


I'm working on building a list of archaic business ideas that may have once existed in the real world, that could be fun to use in a Pathfinder game. I run a Steampunk world, so anything from Renaissance Era through Victorian era (or converted modern era) will fit just fine. Additionally, any archaic terms and slang would be great. Here are the ideas I have so far, in no particular order:

Cigar shops (used to be noticeable by the Indian statue out front) - Mine would be run by either a wizard type or alchemist, and all the cigarettes or cigars would be enchanted. Hence, one box of 20 cigars would have 20 uses.

Cat House - great 1930's term for a brothel.

Druggery - "cures" for what ails ya, though there would likely be big consequences.

Snake Oil Salesmen - These guys are EVERYWHERE in my big cities. I hear the basilisk cream is quite good at preventing wrinkles.

And this is why I need help. Likely I'm tired. I'll add more as I think of them. So, let's populate this list, ya? Thanks!


PS Did a bunch of Google searches, but came up with almost nothing. feel free to point me in the right directions.

Powdered Wig shop - who doesn't need a hat of disguise in this form?

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Consulting Detectives. Not all will be as good as Sherlock Holmes.

Mediums or Spiritualists. No, probably not the class. They may have the ability to speak with the dead, but most will just put on a good show.

Stables. For storing and/or renting transport - this might mean just a horse & tack, or a carriage, or possibly a horseless carriage given steampunk.

Chandlers. Technically the name means candlemakers, but they're actually like a general goods store but aimed at ships crew. If your steampunk includes a lot of airships, some may be aimed at airships crew.

Rented halls. For parties, theatre, or exhibitions of impressive scientific 'experiments' - autopsies, dissections, fireworks, glass decompression chambers with animals within to let the audience see what's happening, etc.

Photographers. The process may be long and slow but it's still popular.

Coffee dealers. These are undercover for a while since this new drug is suspected of undermining the morals of our young people.

Opium dens. See Coffee dealers.

Gin houses. An older drug, now available in higher concentrations at cheaper prices. Suspected of undermining the morals of the lower classes but still open since even trying to ban them could incite revolt.

Bakers, grocers, cobblers, shoeshiners, street artists & portraitists, barbers, teashops, public bars, private clubs, butchers, leather goods, carpenters, coopers, wheelwrights, cabinetmakers, potters, tilers, masons, smiths, bicycle repair shops (may overlap with smiths), seamstresses and tailors, buggy whip manufacturers and providers of all the other standard necessities of Victorian life.

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I'd look at something like What did people do in a Medieval City?:

  • acater - a provisioner (food)
  • alewife - a female alehouse keeper
  • apothecary - a preparer and merchant for drugs and medicines
  • boothman - one who sells grains
  • chapman - travelling merchant
  • collier - one who makes or sells charcoal (later coal) [can also fit under craftsmen]
  • colporteur - seller of religious books
  • costermonger - fruit seller
  • drover - one who drives sheep or cattle to market
  • eggler - an egg-merchant
  • fishmonger
  • fruiterer - a seller of fresh fruit
  • fueller - one who sells charcoal, wood, or other fuels
  • glass seller
  • greengrocer - seller of vegetables and fruits
  • harberdasher - seller of men's clothing
  • hetheleder - one who sells heather as fuel
  • ironmonger - one who sells things made of iron
  • lighterman - one who ferries goods from ship to shore on a small boat
  • linen-draper - one who deals in linens, calicos, etc.
  • mercer - a dealer in expensive clothing (silk, etc.)
  • oynter - an oil-merchant
  • plumer - a dealer in feathers
  • poulter - seller of poultry
  • shrimper - one who catches shrimp
  • spicer - grocer or dealer in spices
  • stationer - seller of books, etc.; also, a copyist
  • unguentary - one who sells unguents
  • waferer - confectioner (a dealer in 'wafers', a kind of cake)
  • weirkeeper - a keeper of fish traps
  • woodmonger - a seller of fuel wood
  • wool stapler - one who buys and sells wool wholesale

Knocker uppers

Awesome list, thanks fellas!

I'm planning on compiling this into a list, so player's won't just go to the tavern, but will need to wander into various shops any time they're tracking down information.

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Don't forget all manner of bureaucratic offices for any number of odd departments


Coach makers
Coachmen/Hansom drivers
Engineering firms
Foremen and factory workers
Lamp lighters
Lawyers/Barristers/Judges/Courts in general
Matchmaker (both the kinds who make sticks to light real fires and the ones who matches to encourage emotional fires...)
Millers and mill workers
Paper makers
Physicians (the competent ones too)
Rat catchers
Soap makers
Street sweepers
Velocipede/Bicycle maker

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Opera Halls
Newspaper offices and printers
Limner - painter. especially of portraits and miniatures
Corpse collector

I cannot wait until I have need to roll up a Corpse Collector for a major story point. Nice.

Now if only it were alphabetized...

Jhaosmire wrote:
Now if only it were alphabetized...

Paste them into a spreadsheet & sort? Easy enough.

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Appropriate for your profile pick: Milliners or hatters.

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"Bring out your dead!"

"I'm not dead yet....I...I feel like dancing!"

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