Watching Mr. Selfridge surely makes many long for the days when the belief that the customer is always right reigned. Now too often it seems the customer is always wrong or maybe some of us don’t have enough buying power to matter.
It may have seemed to some an odd choice to have Jeremy Piven as Selfridge. Obviously he can do brash to the hilt, and I think Selfridge is his tour de force. Piven owns this part. You alternately feel for him, dislike him, dislike him intensely, like him, like him intensely, and just plain think, wow, could such a retail colossus have strode the earth? The answer is more or less, yes…Based on a true story, but some parts are more true than others. I was disappointed that the series hasn’t touched on the Selfridge love affair with Highcliffe Castle (not to be confused with Highclere Castle the main filming location of Downton Abbey) which they rented and where they’re buried. Other than that, superb.
If you’re already enjoying Mr. Selfridge you will be breathlessly waiting for Series 3 which will be set after WWI. If not, you may wish to get caught up on Series 1 & 2 and Lindy Woodhead’s biography of Harry Gordon Selfridge, entitled Shopping Seduction & Mr. Selfridge (Random House), upon which the series is based.
The idea of department stores seemed so amazing, imagine, finding almost everything you may wish to purchase under one roof. Yet these cathedrals of consumption have only one agenda – to sell. They will advertise, promote, coax, cajole, manipulate, market, and do just about anything to get you in the door, after that, it’s caveat emptor – buyer beware. If they get bad publicity they just spin it, duck it, pass the blame, give a sorry, change the names and start all over again. Makes you long for the days of small stores who cared about their customers…they still exist, if you search, they just don’t have the same massive advertising budgets.
Some stores have risen and fallen while others stand tall in the turbulent seas of commerce.
Macy’s, Gimbels, Debenhams, Gostiny Dvor, Fokas, Smyk, Beales, Marks & Spencer, Dimmeys & Forges,
Mitsukoshi, Sears, J.C. Penney, Bin Dawood, Kmart, Hypercity, Eaton’s, Easyday, LuLu Hypermarket, Interspar, Wal-mart, Target, Woolworth, Hamashbir Lazarchan, Hudson’s, Lazarus, Montgomery Ward, Harrods, Bloomingdale’s, Woodard’s, La Samaritaine, John Lewis, Kresge, Wanamaker’s, Marshall Field and Company, Zellers, and so many more and of course, Selfridges.
So besides selling Selfridges (which I believe is now owned by Galen Weston/Loblaws), what’s the point of this series? Perhaps to remind consumers your purchasing power could make companies and store stock and sell good products that work and last.
To remind us of a simpler time.
To see the lovely costumes, manners, history.
Maybe some of all.
People have been trained to believe items break easily, wear out, fade, don’t work well, need updating constantly…we deserve better and we should demand it, with your purchasing power.