So now that they’ve killed off our favorite characters on Downton Abbey, where does Masterpiece go from here? Well, to London’s Oxford Street and the Chicago merchant whose true life story is almost as melodramatic as the plot of Downton.
For more information and the trailer of the upcoming PBS presentation of Mr. Selfridge, click here.
Born in Ripon, Wisconsin, before the American Civil War, Harry Selfridge lived to see the end of World War II. And along the way, he greatly contributed to the development of modern merchandising.
He started in Chicago with Marshal Field’s, the legendary department store where the customer was always right. He masterminded advertising and promotional feats unmatched by anyone else, including the use of the phrase, “Only ?? shopping days until Christmas.”
He became very wealthy and eventually founded his famous store on Oxford Street London, which opened in 1909. He concocted numerous special sales, personal appearances by celebrities and other gimmicks now familiar to all shoppers in the world. After his wife died in the flu epidemic of 1918, he really moved into London high life, taking over the great mansion Lansdowne House near Berkeley Square and throwing parties attended by everyone who was anyone.
Today the store continues to flourish in its original location, a real London landmark.
We look forward to the dramatized story of Mr. Selfridge, coming soon to a PBS station near you.