I have always been a big fan of Selfridges – especially on Oxford Street in London’s West End. I suppose it’s in the blood – my great-grandfather was invited to the opening of ‘Mr Selfridge’s new store’ in 1909 (I still have the invitation), my grandfather started as a Selfridges window dresser and made his way to store director over time. So hardly surprising that I feel at home when shopping there.
Mr Selfridge was a canny retailer. He decided to position his new store up at the ‘other end’ of Oxford Street. His rationale was that there were a steady flow of ‘omni-buses’ past the new location so he believed that 1000’s would be able to look at the store windows as they went slowly past. It worked and the store was a massive success. Even then, the windows were innovative and different and brought people into his new store. A simple lesson in Visual Merchandising!
So over a century later Selfridges still makes news and dazzles with its windows and ideas. Last month they featured windows on ‘Bright Old Things’ – a celebration of retirement renaissance – inspirational individuals who have created a second career or vocation later in life.
Over 350,000 over 65’s in the UK self employed or have their own post-retirement business, so Selfridges decided to celebrate the older entrepreneur.
Enter Bruno Wizard, who was a Punk musician in his earlier life and is now an author, still as edgy and controversial as ever. Or Robert Roope, for years an optician, but now turned optical designer, Sue Kreitzman, transformed from celebrity cook to renowned artist, or Tim Bushe, Architect to topiarist. Selfridges backed the campaign with an exhibition in-store.
It’s refreshing to see that in an age (and City) where ageism is rife and most seem to be chasing the younger, cool, hip consumer, Selfridges have made this stance.