Life Story of Sir Thomas Lipton
New Horizons

He "wasted no time in vain regrets" (Lipton, p63) after being dismissed from the Burns Line. He had managed to save some of his wages and tips and made enquires about the cost of a steerage passage to New York and, after a long discussion with his parents, he was soon on his way. He was not yet fifteen.

Lipton’s Shop in Crown Street, 1924. Arriving in New York, he couldn't find work and accepted a job in the tobacco fields of Virginia. He grew close to his employer, plantation owner Sam Clay, who looked after him after a serious foot injury. After a trip back to New York, Lipton's next job was on a rice plantation at Coosaw Island in South Carolina where the responsibility for the finances and book-keeping gave him a good grounding in running an enterprise. Soon he got that "restless feelin'" (Lipton, p72) and took the sudden decision to board a schooner bound for Charleston. The next two years are vague in detail but we do know that he returned to New York for a third time. This time he was lucky and got a job as an assistant in a prosperous New York grocery store. He liked it from the very start: "People must eat...and the store that tempted people to buy goods would never be empty of customers". (Lipton, p80)

He quickly learned the grocery trade and the secrets of his future success, picking up the American techniques of salesmanship and advertising which were to become his trademark.

In the spring of 1869, he made the surprising decision to return to Scotland. This was at a time when most of the ships crossing the Atlantic carried immigrants to America. Arriving back in Glasgow he hired a cab and on top of it placed a rocking chair and barrel of flour for his mother. Lipton had the driver proceed slowly along Crown Street while he waved and shouted greetings to his old friends and neighbours - a spectacle long remembered in the area.