Segments in this Video

Selfridges Department Store (03:19)


The London store opened in 1909. It helped liberate women, ignored class division, and reinvented shopping in England.

Harry Gordon Selfridge's Early Years (04:03)

Selfridge was born in 1856 to a poor family in rural Wisconsin. He started working in a Chicago department store in 1879 as a stock boy, but quickly rose through the ranks.

Plans for a London Department Store (03:37)

Selfridge picked a location above a newly built subway station and commissioned elaborate architecture. He used American advertising style to launch his store.

Shopping in London (03:52)

Shoppers entered stores knowing what they wanted to buy; there was pressure to make a purchase. The concept of unlimited browsing was not used until Selfridges opened.

Selfridges' Opening Week (02:11)

More than a million people visited the department store during its launch week. Items were displayed so that people could see and touch them.

Selfridges and Women (03:19)

In London, it was improper for women to travel without chaperones. Department stores were acceptable locations for women to be alone. Selfridges gave women the freedom to spend the day shopping.

Selfridges Gains Popularity (03:08)

Selfridge placed the first plane to fly over the English Channel on his store's floor as a publicity stunt and more people began coming to the store. Selfridge supported the suffragette movement.

Selfridges and the Class System (02:18)

Selfridge marketed his store as being opened to all. It was one of the first stores were people of all classes mixed. In 1910, Selfridges offered discount products so customers with less money could buy more.

Selfridges' Employees (05:09)

Selfridge brought the American idea of customer service and good retail working conditions to London. Most shop workers were treated similarly to domestic servants in other stores.

Selfridges' Beauty Department (03:28)

Selfridge initiated the placement of beauty and cosmetic departments at the front a department store. He wanted makeup to be more respectable and accepted.

Selfridges' Expansion (01:46)

Selfridges continued successfully during World War I with military contracts and selling items that could be sent to soldiers. An extension was built that doubled the size of the store.

Selfridges in the 1920s (03:13)

Selfridges emerged as a trending store for young people after the end of World War I. It began selling pre-made dresses in a shorter style.

Selfridges and Innovation (03:18)

Selfridges has numerous windows that line Oxford Street. Elaborate window dressings are created every few months. It is one of the first stores to use mass electricity and other technological advancements.

Selfridge's Personal Life (03:43)

Selfridge tried to become a part of the British upper class and spent large amounts of money on personal goods. He enjoyed gambling and started using the store's money to fund his and a friend's addiction.

Selfridge's Later Life (06:38)

With gambling debts and the store struggling during the Great Depression, Selfridge was removed from his position. He died almost penniless. A Canadian retail firm now owns Selfridges.

Credits: Secrets of Selfridges (00:30)

Credits: Secrets of Selfridges

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Secrets of Selfridges

3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Selfridges was the brain child of an American - Mr. Harry Gordon Selfridge. He brought about a complete revolution in the way that Londoners shopped, introducing a new American retail model which made shopping less of a practical pursuit and more of a luxurious adventure. But there was another one side to the story - Harry's private life. When it began to seep into his business, the effect on him and his store was devastating.

Length: 55 minutes

Item#: BVL151300

Copyright date: ©2014

Closed Captioned

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