Proposal preview

Globalisation and the department store: global-local hybridity, c.1900-2000

Retailing traditionally has been regarded as a localised commercial sector, compared with the internationalisation of manufacturing. As the local nature of the market requires retailers to be aware of local consumer culture, even global retailers need to target local demand. Many studies of retail development examine how retailers build their standard business model and apply this to the local and individual market. However, previous studies mainly focus on the strategy of successful (or occasionally failed) global companies, and the focus is generally on company strategy rather than local manifestations and experiences. In reality, the process of modernisation in retailing included many conflicts between old and new or local and global, in terms of culture, business model, management, shopping experience, and design. This session will therefore shed light on the diverse developments of department stores and on retailers’ and consumers’ responses to globalisation.

The panel seeks to address the following issues:
•Architecture and design – was there a global style and in what ways did this relate and change in response to local vernacular and/or retail needs?
•Management / business organisation – to what extent were these learnt from other parts of the world, either explicitly or by example; how did they relate to local ’traditional’ forms of retail business organisation?
•Branch networks – how and why did these emerge; what was there economic and cultural impact? How did the new store operation work for standardization?
•Stock and selling practices – is there a globalisation of goods; are department stores key to retail revolution?
•The shopping experience – how did this vary across space and time; how do different cultures relate to department store shopping?
•The department stores and modernity – what is the relationship and how has it changed over time and space? How has globalisation adapted to local market through department stores?
•multilateral comparison – Scholars from five different countries focus on the diverse developments of department stores in six different countries.

Organizer(s)

  • Jon Stobart Manchester Metropolitan University J.Stobart@mmu.ac.uk
  • Rika Fujioka Kansai University fujioka@kansai-u.ac.jp

Session members

  • Anneleen Arnout, University of Antwerp
  • Rika Fujioka, kansai University
  • Ian Mitchell, University of Wolverhampton
  • Younjung Oh, Keimyung University
  • Martin Purvis, University of Leeds
  • Julia Sapin, Western Washington University
  • Jon Stobart, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Vicki Howard, University of Essex

Discussant(s)

Papers

Panel abstract

Retailing traditionally has been regarded as a localised commercial sector, compared with the internationalisation of manufacturing. As the local nature of the market requires retailers to be aware of local consumer culture, even global retailers need to target local demand. Many studies of retail development examine how retailers build their standard business model and apply this to the local and individual market. However, previous studies mainly focus on the strategy of successful (or occasionally failed) global companies, and the focus is generally on company strategy rather than local manifestations and experiences. In reality, the process of modernisation in retailing included many conflicts between old and new or local and global, in terms of culture, business model, management, shopping experience, and design. This session will therefore shed light on the development of department stores internationally and on retailers’ and consumers’ market’s to globalisation.

1st half

Introduction: Department Stores in National and International Perspective

Jon Stobart and Vicki Howard

Department stores are seen as flagships of retail modernity which helped to transform processes of buying and selling, and also the urban landscape, through the last third of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. Their origins are variously traced to Paris, New York, and even provincial England, and their development is traced through periods of evolution and revolution. Yet there is little attempt to consider exactly what we mean by a department store in different places and times, or about how their development took place within local, national and international contexts. In this introduction to the session, we examine some of the parameters in defining and analysing department stores, but more particularly the ways in which a broader spatial framing can add to our understanding of their rise and impact on the economics, spaces and practices of retailing.

Department stores are seen as flagships of retail modernity which helped to transform processes of buying and selling, and also the urban landscape, through the last third of the nineteenth century and into the early twentieth century. Their origins are variously traced to Paris, New York, and even provincial England, and their development is traced through periods of evolution and revolution. Yet there is little attempt to consider exactly what we mean by a department store in different places and times, or about how their development took place within local, national and international contexts. In this introduction to the session, we examine some of the parameters in defining and analysing department stores, but more particularly the ways in which a broader spatial framing can add to our understanding of their rise and impact on the economics, spaces and practices of retailing.

Departmental stores in Britain c.1900 to 1950, Alternative places and promoters

Martin Purvis

It remains the case that studies of department stores focus disproportionately on a minority of substantial concerns, often based in major metropolitan centres. Many stores which operated on a departmental basis were, however, relatively modest businesses. This paper explores aspects of the development and practice of such stores, often trading in smaller provincial towns and cities, and suburban locations. It also acknowledges the range of promoters involved in the development of departmental stores across Britain during the first half of the 20th century; paying particular attention to the blurring of boundaries between the department store sector and both expanding retail multiples, and the activities of consumer co-operatives. The paper considers the extent to which this larger population of retail businesses shared common characteristics as departmental stores, and the evidence of innovation in unexpected places.

It remains the case that studies of department stores focus disproportionately on a minority of substantial concerns, often based in major metropolitan centres. Many stores which operated on a departmental basis were, however, relatively modest businesses. This paper explores aspects of the development and practice of such stores, often trading in smaller provincial towns and cities, and suburban locations. It also acknowledges the range of promoters involved in the development of departmental stores across Britain during the first half of the 20th century; paying particular attention to the blurring of boundaries between the department store sector and both expanding retail multiples, and the activities of consumer co-operatives. The paper considers the extent to which this larger population of retail businesses shared common characteristics as departmental stores, and the evidence of innovation in unexpected places.

Modernity and shopping experiences in English provincial department stores, c. 1870-1945

Ian Mitchell

Department stores have been given iconic status as symbols of modernity in the world of late nineteenth and early twentieth century retailing. But how true was this? What is meant by ‘modernity’ in this context; and how different were department stores from other forms of retailing. This paper explores these and related issues through brief case studies of the shopping experience offered by four very different English department stores: Browns of Chester, Brown Muff of Bradford, Fenwicks of Newcastle and Pearsons of Nottingham. They might be categorised as: old-fashioned; classic; modern; and working-class. It also asks why Co-op stores rarely feature in the discussion of department stores. Conclusions are that department stores in England in this period were very varied in nature, offered a variety of shopping experiences and catered to a variety of customers. They were traditional and modern. Multiples and variety stores were perhaps better exemplars of modernity.

Department stores have been given iconic status as symbols of modernity in the world of late nineteenth and early twentieth century retailing. But how true was this? What is meant by ‘modernity’ in this context; and how different were department stores from other forms of retailing. This paper explores these and related issues through brief case studies of the shopping experience offered by four very different English department stores: Browns of Chester, Brown Muff of Bradford, Fenwicks of Newcastle and Pearsons of Nottingham. They might be categorised as: old-fashioned; classic; modern; and working-class. It also asks why Co-op stores rarely feature in the discussion of department stores. Conclusions are that department stores in England in this period were very varied in nature, offered a variety of shopping experiences and catered to a variety of customers. They were traditional and modern. Multiples and variety stores were perhaps better exemplars of modernity.

Advertising the English provincial department store, c.1880-1920

Jon Stobart

Provincial department stores are slowly coming out of the shadow of their metropolitan counterparts, increasingly being recognised as innovative and dynamic in their approach to retailing. In a British context, they are generally seen as falling into one of two categories, targeting upper and middle-class customers or those from the working classes. However, there has been little attempt to consider how this differentiation was reflected in or created by their marketing activities: how they promoted themselves to these very different customer bases. This paper examines the advertisements placed in provincial newspapers by a small number of department stores in north-west England during what is often seen as their heyday. How did their advertising campaigns develop over time, to what extent were they differentiated by the ‘type’ of store, and how did this related to the broader image of the store?

Provincial department stores are slowly coming out of the shadow of their metropolitan counterparts, increasingly being recognised as innovative and dynamic in their approach to retailing. In a British context, they are generally seen as falling into one of two categories, targeting upper and middle-class customers or those from the working classes. However, there has been little attempt to consider how this differentiation was reflected in or created by their marketing activities: how they promoted themselves to these very different customer bases. This paper examines the advertisements placed in provincial newspapers by a small number of department stores in north-west England during what is often seen as their heyday. How did their advertising campaigns develop over time, to what extent were they differentiated by the ‘type’ of store, and how did this related to the broader image of the store?

2nd half

No cause for commotion. A study of Brussels fin de siècle department stores in international perspective

Anneleen Arnout

Scholars have long identified the turn-of-the-century department store with modernity – first with retail modernity and later with the culture of fin de siècle modernity. To substantiate either association, historians and sociologists have mostly looked at department stores in first-range metropolises, like Paris, London or New York. We know less about the second-range cities where department stores came to a more modest development at a later stage. This paper asks whether the department store had the same connotations and meanings in those cities. It does so by taking a look at the department stores of Brussels. By comparing and contrasting the Brussels stores with the well-studied ones in Paris, London, Chicago and New York on a discursive and material level, I will argue that the phenomenon could take on different shapes and meanings within different locations – even in the Western world.

Scholars have long identified the turn-of-the-century department store with modernity – first with retail modernity and later with the culture of fin de siècle modernity. To substantiate either association, historians and sociologists have mostly looked at department stores in first-range metropolises, like Paris, London or New York. We know less about the second-range cities where department stores came to a more modest development at a later stage. This paper asks whether the department store had the same connotations and meanings in those cities. It does so by taking a look at the department stores of Brussels. By comparing and contrasting the Brussels stores with the well-studied ones in Paris, London, Chicago and New York on a discursive and material level, I will argue that the phenomenon could take on different shapes and meanings within different locations – even in the Western world.

The development of department stores and Westernisation of consumer culture in Japan, c.1895-1980

Rika Fujioka

This paper examines the two main stages of the development of Japanese department stores: the first stage was in the early 20th century, when Japanese retailers raced to catch up with Western department stores to become modern Western-style retailers themselves; the second stage was in the late 20th century, when these department stores continued developing along their own unique path in order to target the domestic market during the growth of the Japanese economy, introducing ready-to-wear clothing. Throughout the entire period, the department stores were great intermediaries for connecting Western culture and Japanese culture and led the westernisation of Japanese lifestyle. Through the investigation of in-house organs at Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya, this paper sheds light on the economic and social roles of department stores in Japan.

This paper examines the two main stages of the development of Japanese department stores: the first stage was in the early 20th century, when Japanese retailers raced to catch up with Western department stores to become modern Western-style retailers themselves; the second stage was in the late 20th century, when these department stores continued developing along their own unique path in order to target the domestic market during the growth of the Japanese economy, introducing ready-to-wear clothing. Throughout the entire period, the department stores were great intermediaries for connecting Western culture and Japanese culture and led the westernisation of Japanese lifestyle. Through the investigation of in-house organs at Mitsukoshi and Takashimaya, this paper sheds light on the economic and social roles of department stores in Japan.

Import/Export: Japanese Department Stores’ Impact on American Marketing and Design Practices in the Early Twentieth Century

Julia Sapin

This paper investigates Japanese inspiration for merchandising and design practices of American department stores in the early twentieth century. The inspiration of the kimono on Western wear starting in the early twentieth century is well-known; it is less commonly understood that it was Japanese department stores selling their products through their American counterparts that contributed to this trend. Through my research, I would like to expand understanding of the various ways in which Japanese department-store practices and products permeated American institutions in the early twentieth century. A lot of research has been done about the impact of American and European department stores on the development of Japanese stores; the balance of the equation, the reverse influence, is missing.

This paper investigates Japanese inspiration for merchandising and design practices of American department stores in the early twentieth century. The inspiration of the kimono on Western wear starting in the early twentieth century is well-known; it is less commonly understood that it was Japanese department stores selling their products through their American counterparts that contributed to this trend. Through my research, I would like to expand understanding of the various ways in which Japanese department-store practices and products permeated American institutions in the early twentieth century. A lot of research has been done about the impact of American and European department stores on the development of Japanese stores; the balance of the equation, the reverse influence, is missing.

Inauthentic Authenticity, The Korean Product Section of the Mitsukoshi Department Store in Colonial Seoul

Younjung Oh

Mitsukoshi, a famed Japanese department store, opened a Korean Product Section in its Seoul branch in 1930, when it relocated the store to the very center of the city and built a new building. The Korean Product Section was the only space decorated in a native “Korean style” within the new building that was designed in a “Renaissance style” much like its flagship store in Tokyo. This Korean Product Section offered Korean artifacts as luxury souvenirs aimed at Japanese migrants and tourists. The most popular items sold in the Section were Goryeo celadons and lacquerwares inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Mitsukoshi ordered local workshops to produce “Korean traditional crafts” for Japanese customers who lacked the financial means to purchase genuine Korean antiquities. Although Mitsukoshi’s Korean crafts were made in Korean workshops, they were produced to deliberately cater to Japanese tastes, and many of the local workshops were overseen by Japanese entrepreneurs and...

Mitsukoshi, a famed Japanese department store, opened a Korean Product Section in its Seoul branch in 1930, when it relocated the store to the very center of the city and built a new building. The Korean Product Section was the only space decorated in a native “Korean style” within the new building that was designed in a “Renaissance style” much like its flagship store in Tokyo. This Korean Product Section offered Korean artifacts as luxury souvenirs aimed at Japanese migrants and tourists. The most popular items sold in the Section were Goryeo celadons and lacquerwares inlaid with mother-of-pearl. Mitsukoshi ordered local workshops to produce “Korean traditional crafts” for Japanese customers who lacked the financial means to purchase genuine Korean antiquities. Although Mitsukoshi’s Korean crafts were made in Korean workshops, they were produced to deliberately cater to Japanese tastes, and many of the local workshops were overseen by Japanese entrepreneurs and even employed Japanese artisans. This paper will explore how the establishment of a Korean Product Section within Mitsukoshi ascribed a semblance of the authenticity of “Koreanness” to the modern replicas produced under such inauthentic Korean circumstances in order to inflate their commercial value.