At the turn of the twentieth century in their new country, many immigrant Jews found work as smouse or itinerant pedlars. They travelled to remote parts of the country by horse and wagon, providing farmers with necessities and small luxuries, goods such as textiles, buttons, costume jewellery, patent medicines and kitchen utensils. The smous was more just a trader however. He was a source of news and information, a link to the outside world and to the religious farmers, a link to the world of the Old Testament.
The smouse would barter goods for farm commodities, which they would then sell to wholesalers. Often these small traders would go
on to open a trading store or general dealership. Many Jews opened hotels, catering to the
travelling salesmen who serviced the area. Others were professionals, often pharmacists, doctors and lawyers. They were artisans, photographers or watchmakers. Jews ran cinemas, garages and mineral water factories. The first South African chain store was started by a Jew in 1917 and many of those which followed were