Thursday Book Review: Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge

Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge - Lindy Woodhead

Having visited Selfridges several times, I was very curious about this book. It was delightfully entertaining and educational.

The biography traces Harry Gordon Selfridge's life and career, beginning with his youth in Chicago. He hones his marketing skills at Marshall Field's and, when his desired partnership is denied, he moves his family to London to start the store of his dreams.

Selfridge seems to have been the predecessor of The Experience Economy: Work Is Theater & Every Business a Stage, as he creates events to bring additional foot traffic into the store. On top of that, he was the first store in London to have a restaurant, which encouraged people to stay and shop longer. He invented what we now think of as window dressing (and the Selfridges windows remain amazing, year in and out), which enticed even more shoppers to come in side.

He was not the most shrewd businessman who ever lived, and had a tendency toward profligacy with actresses and gamblers. The book doesn't pull any punches about this aspect of his life, which just gives a better picture of the man.

I enjoyed this thoroughly and would actually recommend it to anyone who works in retail. The information on Selfridge's attitudes about customer service and shopper's experiences is invaluable.