Three weeks ago, we said to goodbye to Downton Abbey. Now it’s time to say farewell to another PBS historical drama, Mr. Selfridge, which began its final season March 27.
Mr. Selfridge revolves around Selfridge’s department store, its owner Harry Gordon Selfridge, his family and the store’s staff.
The story begins in 1908 with the opening of the store and ends in 1928. The second season focused on World War One and its effects both on people and commerce.
The Real Selfridge
Selfridge and Co. is a real British department store. While the staff of the store in the series is fictional, Harry Selfridge and his family are based on real individuals.
Like Harry in the series, the real Mr. Selfridge was born in the U.S. and had a close relationship with his mother. He was a self-made man, taking his first job at age 10 and eventually working for several years for Marshall Field’s department store before moving to Britain and investing in what would become his store.
Also like the series, he was married to Rose and had five children – Rosalie, Violette, Gordon and Beatrice. The eldest child died as a newborn.
Rose died during the Spanish flu pandemic in 1918, and Selfridge’s mother passed away a few years later.
Selfridge had a reputation for being a lady’s man, a gambler and a lush spender. By the time he died in 1947, he was virtually penniless.
Selfridge the Business Man
The phrase “the customer is always right” has been attributed to being invented either by Selfridge or Marshall Fields.
Selfridge was the first to popularize counting down how many shopping days there are until Christmas.
He also invented many of the things we associate with modern shopping: easily accessible goods, accent lighting and shopping for fun.
The store was set up to ensure customers stay as long as possible. It had a restaurant, library and modern restrooms.
Have you ever shopped at Selfridge’s? Leave a comment below.
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