Opening hours in the market streets where Sainsbury’s first traded were long. The shopkeeper lived on the premises, so there was someone available to serve at almost any hour of the day or night. William Goodwin, who worked at 159 Queen's Crescent, Kentish Town, recalled:
'getting up early and waiting behind the shop door with trestles and boards for the police to blow a whistle at 6am as the signal for business to commence. There would be a great rush to set up the stalls.'
As branches expanded, male staff, like the shop managers, began to ‘live in’ above the premises. Staff hostel accommodation provided jobs for housekeepers, who would cook meals, clean uniforms and bed linen and take care of younger staff. Sainsbury’s specifically offered accommodation for young employees who lived some distance away from the London and South-Eastern branches.
'The accommodation at the Branches, although simply furnished, is light, airy and comfortable, and includes a library for the use of the staff; in fact, the Directors of the firm have catered for the comfort of the staff in every way.'
( 'A Career for Your Boys' recruitment booklet, 1930s)
By the 1960s the accommodation included modern facilities like a laundrette, television room and cleanable, non-flammable plastic curtains and bed covers. The hostels tried to re-create a family atmosphere for the resident staff.