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

3.61 of 5 stars 3.61  ·  rating details  ·  66 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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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
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.
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
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
Apr 09, 2014 Liza rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: did-not-finish
It was boring.
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.
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.
Jun 14, 2009 Bryan marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Heard about this one here:
Great illustrations.
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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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