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Odd Wisconsin Archive

The Wisconsin Merchant Prince who Revolutionized Shopping


If you think you're spending too much time shopping this month, maybe you can blame Ripon native Gordon Selfridge. After working his way up through Marshall Fields, in 1909 he opened his own department store on London's Oxford Street, in the very heart of the British Empire at its height. One of the first retailers to appreciate the psychology of shopping, he covered his store's floors with comfortable carpets and welcomed browsers who bought nothing but just wanted to "make a day of it." Selfridge was also among the first to realize that women were the principal consumers in most households, and so emphasized cosmetics, beauty products, and carefully crafted window displays meant to appeal to newly independent women. Toward the end of his career, he returned home to Wisconsin for an honorary degree from Ripon College. These, and other shopping stories, are available in our online collection of Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.
:: Posted in Odd Lives on December 8, 2004
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