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Fur trader in his warehouse (Canada 1890)

As traders are persons or companies referred to commodities ( commodities ) or financial products buy and resell.


Many dealers have specialized (e.g. car dealers , bicycle dealers , greengrocers , foreign exchange dealers ). General and Commercial Law , they were sometimes trade Driving , merchant or merchant called; but there were and are different distinctions in the regulations . According to the German Commercial Code , a trader is considered a businessman if he is self-employed and not an employee .

In relation to the consumer , a trader or merchant can usually be qualified as an entrepreneur . From this it follows that the right to consumer protection applies: In Austria the merchant no longer exists, here every freelance trader is also an entrepreneur under company law or, in other cases, a seller (professional group retail trade ). The German Equipment and Product Safety Act defines: A dealer is any natural or legal person in the supply chain who makes a product available on the market , with the exception of the manufacturer and the importer ( Section 2 No. 12 ProdSG). For an overview of the apprenticeship and training occupations and professional development, see commercial occupation .


In the past, dealers were also referred to as Kramer (North German), Krämer , Hake (North German), Fragner or Greißler (Austrian). Small traders (especially in markets) are also called huckster (thereof: sell off ) or detailed lists referred. The term trader is used for employed traders in the financial markets (such as the stock exchange ). The English expression for "dealer", dealer , is usually understood to mean a drug dealer in German-speaking countries .


As early as the Neolithic Age , there was trade with Flint , the former material for blades of all kinds, lack currencies as barter.

In ancient Egypt there were barter markets everywhere, initially with a purely natural barter, and market ships docked in the ports on the Nile . Officials examined, also by measuring and weighing, whether the exchange of goods was fair. The Pharaoh was master of foreign trade by means of caravans . So traders were often traveling by sea and land. The Assyrian Empire also conducted long-distance trade. Smaller peoples were sometimes specialized in certain commodities, e.g. B. the Nabataeans are known as middlemen of frankincense .

Another type of traveling trader since ancient times was the sutler who accompanied almost every military convoy . They took care of knights , soldiers and mercenaries on the way.

In the ancient city of Rome there was already a kind of shopping center with the “ Trajan's Markets ” , while the grain supply for Roman citizens was free of charge, i.e. apart from local trade.

middle Ages

The term merchant , who regularly does business, is used very differently in medieval sources and a clear distinction between the terms can be quite difficult, as the wholesaler was forbidden from direct trade in spices, for example, but merchants sometimes simply hired employees or founded branches who took over the local sales for them. In addition to long-distance trade , small and small trade also played a very important role in the medieval trading system.

Traders , farmers and artisans supplied the markets with products that they themselves produced on site and often with more.

Humpback shopkeeper , also synonymous peddlers or hawkers (from Middle High German  hucke  for, load the peddler '), attracted by the country and offered from their Kramkorb or abdominal shops especially local agricultural products to (z. B. the Grünhöker as greengrocers). Most of them did not belong to any guild.
see also outpatient trading

A higher rank in this local distribution network was taken by the shopkeeper ( Latin called institor ) (which in ancient Rome meant who had been employed by the owner of a trade as general manager or in a specific branch of business ) who had a local general store and visited markets ( Old High German  kram  'tent, market stall ' and Middle High German 'tent cover, goods'). There, as well as at trade fairs and at the stacking areas, he stocked up on goods when he wasn't importing them himself, and offered a wide range of goods for sale, including bags, small items, sewing kits and care products. Every now and then also drugs and spices, which also served as namesake for various shopkeepers, as in Basel: for example: "Zum Ingwer", "Zum Pfeffer" etc. Another term for small traders with their own sales booth ( Gremplerbank ) was that Gremper (also Grempler ).

City ordinances protected local shopkeepers from competition from other regions and tried to create equal conditions for all local shopkeepers.

The shopkeeper used to be of the free class . After all, they had to be able to move around freely. In Italian cities, for example, some were even counted among the men of war on horseback or were more closely related to the castle men of a town. Shopkeepers could gain wealth and influence, shopkeepers' guilds , the head of which was called “shopkeepers”, were sometimes on a par with trade guilds in terms of political importance. Of course, trading (alone) was never a guarantee of social standing .

By the late Middle Ages , however, specialized trades developed in the retail trade and the term “ junk” acquired a negative connotation.

Modern times and 20th century

The colonialism was not only of States operated, but also of associations of merchants and traders, eg. B. the East India Companies .

In the early 20th century the profession of shopkeeper is described as follows: “Kramer (= shopkeeper) are under- traders in the sense of commercial law . The small trader is also called Krämer, his activity "junk trade" ... the junk trade is retail trade in used items. "In many places, however, Krämer has long been a synonym for the owner of a small grocery store , originally called a grocer , later better known under nostalgia aspects under the name Aunt- Emma store - but no longer with the typical pickle barrel.

The term trader got a new meaning through the exchange trader .


  • Dealer . In: German Academy of Sciences of the GDR, Prussian Academy of Sciences (Hrsg.): German legal dictionary . tape 5 , issue 1 (edited by Otto Gönnenwein , Wilhelm Weizsäcker , with the assistance of Hans Blesken). Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar 1952, Sp. 85-87 ( ). Here p. 87 (III Retailer, ).
  • Meyer's Small Conversation Lexicon. Volume 3: Galizyn to Kiel. Bibliographical Institute, Leipzig / Vienna 1909.
  • Rudolf Kötzschke: General economic history of the Middle Ages. Reprint d. Jena 1924.
  • Matthias Lexer: Middle High German pocket dictionary. Last hand edition. Leipzig 1885.
  • Kuno Ulshöfer: Lexicon of the Middle Ages. Volume 4: Arch Chancellor to Hiddensee. CD-Rom version 2000.

Web links

Wiktionary: Dealer  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Austria-Forum : Fragner
  2. Trade & Units of Measure in Ancient Egypt on
  3. Incense trade in antiquity on
  4. Ernst Schubert: Eating and drinking in the Middle Ages. Primus Verlag, 2nd edition 2010, ISBN 978-3-89678-702-6 , p. 136 f.
  5. From hackers to grocer. In: Hamburger Abendblatt. June 25, 2002 ( accessed on January 19, 2018).
  6. Grempler . In: German Academy of Sciences in Berlin (Ed.): German legal dictionary . tape 4 , issue 7 (edited by Hans Blesken and others). Hermann Böhlaus successor, Weimar 1963, DNB  453942628 , Sp. 1093 ( - first edition: 1944, unchanged reprint).