buy oats of sacks [buy oats out of sacks]


New Member
Could you tell me what does this expression mean please?

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  • meg.houce

    New Member
    ok guy thank you for your help. the context is in business, the text speak about: what if there are no products brands; and nothing is branded; and we all wear blue overalls (means we wear the same thing) and buy oats out of sacks.....

    it's in a listening activity in a business English method called Market Leader, intermediate level, first unit, second listeneing tapescript! a British expert in Marketing consultancy speaks about Brands importance and supposed "if we all get off the world of brands"
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    English - England
    It is still somewhat unclear but I think that the speaker is saying people want choice in how they buy things. It is not an expression I have ever heard.

    Linguo IS Dead

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    It's not an expression. I think it means exactly that: to buy oats out of (from) sacks.

    If there were no brands, we would all wear the same thing (I don't think this follows logically, but never mind) and we would buy our food in large quantities, rather than in small, pretty, expensive packages.

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I don't think it is an expression either. I think it is a simple reference to retail practice and the buying experience some 50 or 60 years ago, when goods were not prepackaged, Presupermarket Era, a reference to the corner grocery. I can't recall oats - for me the equivalent would be buying butter from the barrel. Butter was imported from Denmark in a wooden barrel which the retailer would break open. He would then slice off the required amount from the barrel -shaped mass, and wrap it up. Sugar was bought 'loose'. The grocer would take a large piece of blue paper which he would fashion into a cone, scoop the sugar into from the sack and then twist the top. Sweets and biscuits came in large jars or large tins with glass lids. The required amount would be scooped into paper bags.

    Of course not everything was sold 'loose'.

    Grocers would wear what I think is called an overall in BrE, ( not dungarees),that's to say a knee length jacket made out of some strong cotton material to protect their clothes. I don't recall it being blue in England although I am sure it was blue in France, where blue is the traditional colour for work clothes. I remember them being grey or beige.



    New Member
    thanks Hermione for this brilliant background analysis! I have taken tips of ideas from all of your precious contribution! I actually went for a walk, minutes ago and understood that Oat which is used to feed horses basically, is sold in bulk, means in great quantities!
    If brands didn't exist and no packaging, colours, designs, people would buy prducts just like you buy oats out of sacks! I think that's it!

    And you know the funniest thing is that I spent all this time looking for this detail, while a long class preparation is waiting for me, for tomorrow! an important customer and I have to be aware about any detail! Teaching kills loool thx a bunch guys
    Thanks so much indeed, all of you!
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    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    In the United States, there are a quite a few groceries that sell grains, beans, other food "in bulk". That means that store has the food in large bin, and the customers put whatever amount they want in a container. They do not have to buy large amounts. Sometimes other foods, such as oil, vinegar, and peanut butter are sold this way.

    Although it is still possible to find the names of the companies producing the food, they are not conspicuous, and not on the packaging. Most people will not be aware of the brand name of whatever they buy.
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