cabinHow many markets are in your neighborhood? This lesson looks at De Smet, South Dakota in the 1880's. The street map used in this lesson is taken from a real sketch drawn by Laura Ingalls Wilder. We will look at De Smet and see how Laura's neighborhood is like yours.


You will pick a market in your own community. Then you will classify it as a fast food restaurant, a hotel/motel, a grocery store, or another type of business. You will name other businesses that are in competition with the market you chose.


You have probably heard of Laura Ingalls Wilder. She is the author of the Little House books. Her tales of frontier life have been read by children for many years. She lived in several frontier towns, including De Smet, South Dakota. Look at this map of all the towns she lived in.

De Smet, South Dakota was a frontier town in the 1880's. About 80 people lived in DeSmet and there were many businesses. You could say there were many markets. Markets are created when buyers and sellers interact. Markets are ANY place there are buyers and sellers. A market doesn't have to be a particular place or business.

There are buyers and sellers in markets. A buyer is a consumer. You are a consumer if you buy gas, rent a video, or go to a movie. Consumers are people who buy goods and services.

The sellers in the markets are the people who are selling the goods and services. Buyers and sellers are important to a market. Would you go to a store if you could not buy anything? Would a store stay open if the store's owner could not sell anything? No, a store is a market where buyers and sellers meet to buy and sell.

Look at this street map of De Smet, South Dakota , adapted from an orginal drawing by Laura Ingalls Wilder. What are the markets in De Smet? store

Count the grocery stores in De Smet. There is the Barker's Grocery store, the Harthorn Grocery store, and the Wilmarth Grocery store. How many hotels are there?

When there is more than one market that is selling the same good or service, we call that competition. Competition is good for the consumer. If there was only one grocery store in De Smet, what might happen? Sometimes a store that does not have any competition will charge high prices on items that people need.

If there was only one grocery store in De Smet, and it sold flour for a high price, what would people have to do if they needed flour? What would happen if there were two stores in De Smet that sold flour and one store sold it for a higher price?

Do you have a Pizza Hut in your community? If you have a Pizza Hut, then you might also have a Domino's, Papa John's, or pizzaanother pizza store. What do you think would happen if Pizza Hut started selling pizzas for $20 a pizza? But what would happen if you really wanted pizza, and you didn't have time to make it yourself, you had $20 for food, and there was only Pizza Hut in your community? Would you buy the pizza?

This is how we know that competition is good for consumers: competition between sellers helps to keep prices lower. In a town of only 80 people there was enough business to keep three grocery stores going. How many stores do you have in your community?

Look at the street map of De Smet, South Dakota again, and see how many hardware stores there were in De Smet. Was that a good thing for consumers? Why?


You have been introduced to the terms market, consumer, and competition. You should be able to identify a market in your own community and tell whether or not that market has competition.


Younger students:
You will do an interactive drag and drop activity in which you will identify people in the role of consumers. Then you can draw a simple map of a neighborhood where there are stores that have competition.

Older students:
Write a sentence in which you use the a name of a market in your town. Don't list pizza. What kind of good or service is sold there? Is it a market for gasoline, a fast food meal, or a haircut? Next list all the businesses that would be in competition with the market you named.