- Summaries (2)
In 1908 Agnes Towler, a shop girl at Gamages store, is sacked after a flamboyant American customer insists she empty her entire stock of gloves on her counter but later receives an expensive pair of gloves from the man. He is Harry Selfridge, a former shop worker who has moved from Chicago to London with his mother Lois, wife Rose and their children. His aim is to open his own store in Oxford Street. When his original partner backs out journalist Frank Edwards introduces Harry to influential suffragette Lady Mae Loxton, through whom he obtains the required financial backing. In March 1909 he opens his unprecedently sumptuous new department store. He employs Agnes, making her senior accessories assistant, which annoys fellow shop girls Doris and Kitty, though Victor, a waiter at the store's restaurant, takes a shine to her. Also on the staff are chief accountant Mr Crabb, stoic chief of staff Mr Grove, head window dresser Henri Leclair, the formidable Miss Mardle, head of accessories and Miss Bunting, her nervous counter part in fashion. Frank also introduces Harry to Gaiety girl Ellen Love, who, as the opening is launched, is chosen to personify the Spirit of Selfridges.
Appalled at how British department stores are organized and run, expatriate American Harry Gordon Selfridge decides to open what he claims will be London's finest shopping establishment. He has a number of problems but his enthusiasm knows no bounds. Some say he's building his store at the wrong end of Oxford Street and his partner, Mr. Waring pulls out of their partnership. He also hires department heads a full 12 months before they are to open with orders to travel the world searching for the finest products available, He wants to make shopping fun. He pushes on, finding a new investor but suffers from some self-doubt, something he shares only with his mother who lives with him, his wife and their four children. As the opening approaches Agnes Towler, who lost her job the year before after serving Selfridge in another store, gets a job in accessories. She soon meets Victor who works in the store's restaurant. When the sprinklers are accidentally set off, the store's window dresser Henri Leclair has very little time to get them redone. On her way home from Agnes notices that her boss, Miss Mardle is acting very familiarly toward chief of staff Mr. Grove, whose wife is an invalid. The store opens as scheduled.
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