Wait…how does an AIRPLANE go into a store?
You disassemble it, carry it into the store, and reassemble it.
That’s what legendary London department store owner Harry Selfridge did back in July 1909, after Frenchman Louis Blériot became the first person to cross the English Channel by plane.
Flight was new, Blériot was newly famous, and Harry wanted his new store to be in on the conversation.
So he struck a deal with the pilot and had the Selfridge display team install Blériot’s plane on the ground floor of the store. Then Harry invited his customers and the media to come take a look. They did. More than 150,000 people descended on Selfridge’s over the next four days, and the store made a killing.
It was the first of many publicity stunts Harry pulled to keep Selfridges in the news, and it worked like a charm. Ballerina Anna Pavlova, Sherlock Holmes writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Antarctic explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton – and more – all spent time – and got people spending money – at Selfridges. It’s still a popular place for celebrities to visit today.
But Harry Selfridge wasn’t the first to marry spectacle with shopping.
That would be Charles Tiffany.
When Tiffany’s partner, John Young, came back to New York from a buying trip to Paris in 1848, he brought with him a jeweled corset rumored to have belonged to Marie Antoinette. Anxious to exploit the find and get people in the store, Charles Tiffany partnered with P.T. Barnum to help get the word out. The store was packed for months.
Then, of course, there was Stanley Marcus.
His aunt, uncle, and father had opened Neiman Marcus in Dallas in 1907, when Stanley was just a toddler. He grew up in the store and later went to Harvard to get a business degree. He became one of the most marketing-savvy retailers of the 20th century.
His weekly fashion shows became the place to see and be seen in Dallas.
He then created The Neiman Marcus Award for Distinguished Service in the Field of Fashion – a sort of Oscars for fashion – which he gave to style icons like Coco Chanel and Grace Kelly. They came to Dallas to collect the award, shop, and mingle with Neiman Marcus’ top customers.
The legendary “His and Hers” Christmas catalogs were also his brainchild, as were the extraordinary “Fortnight” presentations, which spotlighted a different country every year and got hundreds of thousands of people to visit the store during the two week event.
So why all the retail history?
To prove a point.
When was the last time you had FUN shopping?
When you really looked forward to going to a store to see something new or unusual?
I’m not talking about getting the latest iPhone or going to a Black Friday sale.
I’m talking about exploring new places, discovering their treasures, and then reporting back to your friends and family with your exciting, unusual finds.
When was the last time you did that?
Has it been awhile?
Then here’s what you should do:
Clear your calendar and go to Selfridges in London to see what all the fuss is about. You might also enjoy Harrods and Harvey Nichols while you’re there.
Then head to Paris and check out Le Bon Marché and Monoprix.
Prefer Down Under? The world’s oldest department store is ready and waiting for you there.
You don’t have the time to check out any of those places?
Then it’s a good thing they’re all online. You can spend all your travel money on clothes instead.
Prefer trendy? Classic? Bohemian?
Need petite, tall, or plus size?
Vintage? Designer? Bespoke?
Then I have a solution.
If you’re ready to have fun shopping again, to discover cool things and window shop the world from your computer while sitting in your pajamas and sipping wine, then grab a copy of my “Little Black Book” of fashion resources:
From department stores and unique boutiques to up-in-coming designers and subscription fashion boxes, I take you around the corner and around the world with more than 300 shopping sources that will dazzle and delight.
So whether you have big feet, a big bust, or a big need to discover the hottest new place to shop, grab a copy of my Fashion Rolodex and find exactly what you need.
It may not be a plane, a ballerina, or a mystery writer, but it will definitely illicit the same kind of oohs and aahs once you start clicking around and see what they have to offer.
But hurry! It’s only available for a limited time, so grab while the getting’s good.