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Service and Style: How the American Department Store Fashioned the Middle Class

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3.61  ·  Rating Details  ·  72 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Downtown department stores were once the heart and soul of America's pulsing Broadways and Main Streets. With names such as City of Paris, Penn Traffic, The Maze, Maison Blanche, or The Popular, they suggested spheres far beyond mundane shopping. Nicknames reflected the affection customers felt for their favorites, whether Woodie's, Wanny's, Stek's, O.T.'s, Herp's, or Bam' ...more
ebook, 352 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by St. Martin's Press (first published August 22nd 2006)
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Julie
May 16, 2012 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I spent my semester researching a historic department store in Baltimore, and I used this book. Perhaps a bit heavy on the nostalgia, but Whitaker is correct in pointing out that department stores were considered to be a threat to small dry goods dealers, and were viewed much as some view Walmart today. Because of this book, I wasn't surprised to find that the Maryland legislature repeatedly brought forward an "anti-department store bill," starting in the 1890s.

I don't know whether it was a nati
...more
Allison
Oct 06, 2010 Allison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Jan Whitaker has cornered the market on documenting retail history. This was a really fascinating look at the history of the department store. Lighting and air conditioning played a big part in its early success and its view of how "the other half" lived was available for everybody to see and buy.
Jane
Oct 31, 2013 Jane rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Coincidentally, this book found me as Masterpiece Theatre is between two series set in department stores: Mr. Selfridge and The Paradise. Both are relatively mediocre series, but that's beside the point. This book is great background and detail on the development of department stores, back when they were way more than department stores as I know them. I can't say I'm nostalgic for them, as the author seems, but I do miss companies investing money in really attractive architecture. Tar-jay, eat y ...more
Susan
Feb 22, 2012 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love the history of retailing. I just finished "Look to Lazarus", the sole purpose of which was to indulge baby boomer nostalgia: oh we loooved our department store downtown, things were so much better then...
By page 12 of this book I am disabused of the notion that department stores were universally adored. In the late 19th century people slammed them just the way we do malls and chain stores now. they were said to be putting small merchants out of business, mistreating employees, selling sho
...more
Liza
Apr 09, 2014 Liza rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: did-not-finish
It was boring.
Tera
Sep 13, 2007 Tera rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you want to know how things used to be before the malls and big box stores then read this book. The author breaks it all down socially, economically and historically. She really sums it up in the end: yes, we have come full circle. If you are into the retro world, you'll appreciate this book.
Phil
Interesting read on how an American business segment adapted to the current needs of their customers, and at the same time "taught" their customers what was "proper" about shopping. Too much detail for the casual reader, but easy to skim.
Bryan
Jun 14, 2009 Bryan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Heard about this one here: http://rightcoast.typepad.com/rightco...
Deb
Aug 23, 2008 Deb rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great illustrations.
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5864164
In a sense I backed into writing books via a postcard collection. After years of collecting postcards of restaurants and tea rooms, I wanted to learn more about them and began sending around a proposal for a book on tea rooms. I love doing research and visiting libraries and archives. When I published Tea at the Blue Lantern Inn: A Social History of the Tea Room Craze in America in 2002 it had not ...more
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