Harry Gordon Selfridge

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Selfridge in 1910

Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. (11 January 1858 – 8 May 1947)[1] was an American-British business owner. He founded the London-based department store Selfridges. He was one of the most respected and wealthy retail businessmen in the United Kingdom.

Early life[change | change source]

Selfridge was born in Ripon, Wisconsin.[2] Selfridge was raised in Jackson, Michigan. Selfridge's parents were Robert Oliver Selfridge and his wife Lois. They had three sons.[3] His father fought in the American Civil War. He was a major in the Union Army.[3] After he was discharged, he did not come back to the family.[3]

Both of Selfridge's brothers died young. His mother taught school. From the age of 10, Harry began working. He sold newspapers to help his mother. Later he stocked shelves at a dry goods store.

Career[change | change source]

When he was 21, Selfridge went to Chicago. He worked for Field, Leiter and Company. This later became Marshall Field's & Co. He worked there for 25 years.[4] Selfridge started the idea of a bargain basement in a department store. Selfridge's ideas added to the success of Marshall Field & Company. When he asked Marshall Field to let him become a partner, Field was surprised, but he agreed.[5] Field even lent him the money needed to become a partner.

After visiting England, Selfridge decided to open his own department store in London.[6] In 1909, his store opened on Oxford Street. It brought about many changes in shopping. It is still a big store today. In fact, Selfridges & Co. was named the Best Department Store in the World in 2010 and 2012.[7]and 2014.

Personal life[change | change source]

In 1890, Selfridge married Rose Buckingham. Her family was wealthy and influential. Rose was a property developer when she married. She died of the Spanish flu in 1918. Harry never married again, even though he had several girlfriends.

Death[change | change source]

Selfridge died of pneumonia in Putney, London, aged 89.

Writings[change | change source]

Selfridge wrote the book The Romance of Commerce. He used a ghostwriter to help him write it. The book was published in 1918.

References[change | change source]

  1. "Harry Gordon Selfridge". Encyclopedia Britannica. Retrieved 6 August 2013. 
  2. The Yankee Who Taught Britishers That 'the Customer Is Always Right', Milwaukee Journal, 7 September 1932,
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Lindy Woodhead, Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge (New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2012), p. 5
  4. Harry Gordon Selfridge. (2014). In Encyclopædia Britannica. Web. Retrieved on May 20, 2014.
  5. Soucek, G. Marshall Field's: The Store that Helped Build Chicago. The History Press, 2011. Web. 20 May 2014.
  6. Ask Geofrey. Dir. Erica Gunderson. Perf. Geoffrey Baer. WTTW, 19 Mar. 2014. Mr. Selfridge, Firehouses, & Revolving Doors. Web. 20 May 2014.
  7. "Our Heritage." Selfridges & Co. , n.d. Web. 20 May 2014.

Other websites[change | change source]