The Impact of Department Stores Essay

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The Impact of Department Stores Departments stores introduced the customs of shopping as we know them today. Before the advent of giant emporiums like Macy's and Saks, people made their purchases in specialty and dry goods houses, usually located in a nearby part of town. Store owners in small or rural areas, expecting a slow turnover of merchandise, sold their goods at a high mark-up, but allowed thrifty customers to bargain for lower prices or barter with cash crops. Window-shopping had yet to be born; those who entered the store were obligated to buy something, and customers could not return the goods they had purchased (Hall, "Pre-Department Stores"). As a result, people only went shopping for what they needed, when they needed…show more content…
He went from a total of a half-million francs in sales in 1852 to five million in sales in 1860. With the extra money he earned, Boucicaut expanded his line to include dresses, ladies' coats, underwear, and shoes, offering these new items in the same store but in separate departments ( Hall, "Pre-Department Stores"). Following Boucicaut's example, a number of large department stores emerged in major cities in the United States. By the turn of the century, American department stores had exceeded their European counterparts in both scale and innovation. Lord and Taylor and Macy's each claim to be New York's first department store, in terms of the variety of products sold, but Marshall Field in Chicago was probably the first real example in the country. While the success of Bon Marché undoubtedly fueled the growth of these stores in America, the influence of favorable economic conditions cannot be underestimated. Urbanization, industrialization, population growth, mass transportation, mass production, and a rising standard of living all contributed to the modern era of commercial retailing. Mass production lowered the prices of many ready made goods, while at the same time the new industrial economy expanded the purchasing power of the middle class. In addition, mass transportation began to appear mid-century, making the transport of goods cheaper and bringing new customers from far away parts of the city (Hall, "The Rise of Technology"). Large stores were simply
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