All Things Victorian

All Things Victorian
Victoriana Lady Lisa

Friday, March 27, 2015

Victorian Era Born Harry Gordon Selfridge

 Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr., born in the Victorian era, was an American-born British retail magnate who founded the London based department store Selfridges. He married Rosalie Buckingham from a prominent Chicago family in 1890. They had a son Chandler who died shortly after his birth, daughters Rosalie, Violette, Beatrice, and a son Gordon Jr.

The Selfridge's lived lavishly at Highcliffe castle for a time. To read more-

 Rosalie, shown with 4 of her 5 children. Mrs. Selfridge died in the Influenza pandemic in 1918.

Harry Selfridge coined the phrase, "The Customer Is Always Right. "He was the first to promote Christmas sales and started the saying, "Only _____ shopping days until Christmas!" Others included:
"People will sit up and take notice of you if you will sit up and take notice of what makes them sit up and take notice."

Handsome actor Jeremy Piven plays the character role of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the department store magnate.

 The store opened on March 15, 1909, near the end of the Edwardian era, at the western end of Oxford Street in London. There was nothing like it. Selfridge created a place where people wanted to shop, enjoyed it in fact, as opposed to shopping out of necessity. The store carried the best of everything, and it was on display where shoppers could experience the products, not just look at them under glass. Harry wanted it that way. The store was a destination with restaurants, a library/reading room, and special reception rooms for French, German, and American customers. If only I had a time machine to go back and shop for a day!

                    Fashions circa 1909 from Victorian Lady Lisa's private collection.

Due to the Great Depression, his gambling, and a penchant for free spending on show girls, Selfridge died almost penniless, living with his oldest daughter Rosalie at the end of his life.

Harry Gordon Selfridge was born January 11, 1864 in Ripon, Wisconsin. He died May 8, 1947 in  Putney London, England of Bronchopneumonia. He's buried in St. Marks churchyard Highcliffe, Dorset next to his wife Rosalie who died in 1918, and his mother Lois who died in 1924.

To read more about his death and burial-

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