Shop window on "Mr. Selfridge"
At the beginning of the first episode of "Mr. Selfridge," Harry Gordon Selfridge, in the midst of opening his own London department store, went to buy a pair of gloves at another store. He asked to see a lot of gloves all at once, which was not the way things used to be done in stores. You were supposed to know what you wanted, and have one thing handed to you at a time.The gloves clerk attempted to co-ooperate with him, but ended up losing her job over the incident. (When Selfridge found out, he hired the clerk at his own store.)
Selfridge's in the early twentieth century, as shown in the series, was something new. It was a community place, a happy place, a place where people could come to see exhibits and celebrity appearances (and buy celebrity souvenirs). When Selfridge's friend Woolworth (yes, that Woolworth) planned to open a discount store in London, Selfridge responded by offering lower-priced items in every department, so that everyone could feel part of the Selfridge's world. When the war began and Selfridge (an American) wondered what he could do to help the war effort, someone told him that he did a great deal for morale by having such a wonderful place. People cheered up just by walking in the Selfridge's door, he was assured.
But the then-new concept of making shopping fun, and the mall or store a friendly, welcoming, even seductive place: that's what has trickled down.
It's not about guilt and over-asceticism, though those can creep in. It's simply realizing that every life, every choice we make, touches so many other lives. We each have the potential to make a positive difference in our small places, even in the bigger world. We can spend our lives shopping and dressing ourselves. Or we can get on with it.