Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Department Stores- Claire Masset

Department Stores (Shire Library)

One of my favorite British TV shows is Are You Being Served?  I get a kick out of the staff of Grace Brothers Department Store, and the glimpses of shop life in the Seventies. Alas, real life retail isn't quite as entertaining- I speak from experience. However, having discovered the delightful Shire Library series, I had to read this volume on the genesis of department stores and their role in British culture. I never knew that the staff were once required to live in segregated dorms on the upper floors of the stores. Or that the shops were considered prime targets for bombing in war-time. I sort of knew that the modern department store had its roots in individual merchant shops, but I never thought about how they came to be as inclusive as they are today. Not only is there a wealth of historical information packed into this brief book, there are pictures of  the advertisements used to entice customers to patronize them. Quite a fun read!

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