The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Mirror


It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post – This weeks object is The Mirror

Reflections of our own image had a magical significance in ancient cultures. In early times glass polished stones or metal were used. The Ro mans coated flat glass with silver or gold foil. Justus von Liebig discovered the chemical process of coating a glass surface with metallic silver in 1835. Today, mirrors are still made by coating a thin layer of molten aluminium or silver onto the back of a plate glass in a vacuum. How ever, mirrors and their capabilities are still evolving. During the Renaissance, Nuremberg and Venice became centres of excellence for mirror production but by the middle of the 17th century mirror making was practised extensively in London and Paris. The Royal Palace of Versailles had incredible mirrors in the staterooms, which created a sensation at the time. Craftsmen such as Grinling Gibbons in the late 17th and early 18th centuries produced elaborately carved mirror frames, and English brothers Robert and James Adam created ceiling-high fireplace units that used mirrors to create a special ambiance. As the 19th century progressed, mirror making became cheaper and mirrors were put into wardrobes, sideboards, and clothing retailers began installing them in and around store interiors and in changing and fitting rooms. Three-way mirrors were also introduced to help customers see themselves from different angles when trying on clothes. Today, mirrors are taking on new dimensions as digital technology begins to extend their capabilities for retail use. For example, interactive mirrors in stores incorporate a camera which captures the customer’s body dimensions and stance. Using hand gestures, the customer ‘swipes’ different outfits from a display menu and the mirror shows their reflection with the selected garment superimposed over their on-screen image. The digital delay mirror records the customer’s reflection and outputs it on a two second delay, enabling them to see what they look like from the back.
Contribution to Retail History
Mirrors are key to encouraging purchase of garments as the ability to see how they look on the wearer plays a major role in the decision-making process. The fitting room is a key part of the shopper experience. Mirrors give consumers the ultimate reassurance of the validity of their purchase decision and as such help generate millions in retail sale.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

Picture of The Week

Opera House Manaus, Brazil

The Opera House Manaus, Brazil. Now Home to the World Cup. Started in 1884 at a time when fortunes were made in the rubber boom here in Manaus in the heart of the Amazon rainforest in Brazil. The first performance was La Gioconda on January 7, 1897. Now it’s joined by another huge, expensive building -  a new football stadium for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Greek Agora

Greek Agora

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post - This weeks object is The Greek Agora. By about 600 BC all cities in ancient Greece would have had an agora near their cent re.A market place as well as a meeting place, the agora was usually a rectangular space surrounded by buildings and frequented by politicians, traders, aristocrats, scientists and slaves. Along one edge was the ‘stoa’, a long covered walkway with shop s located in it,  where more expensive items could be purchased than those found on the traders’ stalls. Farmers brought their produce to the agora and set up stalls selling meat, fish, fruits, vegetables, cheeses, eggs, honey, and wine. Cattle and grain were also traded, as were more exotic items such as gems, silks, wool, and, of course, slaves. A hive of activity, craftsmen would ply their trade and moneychangers and bankers would carry out their business. ‘Shopping’ at the agora was conducted by men and their household slaves, not by women. The agora was also a focus for cultural and community activity. Political debate, theatre, and musical performances would draw citizens in as they fraternised with friends and business associates. It also served as a labour exchange as employers mixed with men looking for work. Although it was a predominantly male environment, women were allowed to use the agora’s public fountains to collect water.

Contribution to Retail History

A focal point for trading and bartering, the agora is one of many examples of how even in ancient civilisations, communities instinctively drew together to share, compare, buy and sell.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast


Picture Of The Week

Yes that is a Bentley on the streets of Shanghai

Shanghai RR

China is now the second largest market for Bentley. USA is still No1 but for how much longer…?


The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Coin

Coins History Of Retail

It’s Tuesday so it’s The History Of Retail In 100 Objects post - This weeks object is the Coin.

In China, from around 1200 BC , the cowrie shell was used as an item of exchange – ‘shell money’. archaeologists’ finds suggest that from 1000 BC the Chinese began to produce mock cowrie shells made of metal. Bartering had two distinct disadvantages – the person wishing to ‘buy’ may not have anything the ‘seller’ wished to acquire, and even if they could agree on a trade, the haggling process was time consuming. Coins offered a solution in that they represented fixed values and could be exchanged not for their intrinsic value, but in order to change hands again in payment for some other goods. An appreciation of the value of metals such as gold and silver had already developed. Since these metals were durable, portable and demand for them remained constant, they were a natural choice for use as a common currency. The value of a coin depended upon its weight and metal content. The idea of using coins quickly spread to Greece, and because the early Greeks were keen traders throughout the Mediterranean, coinage spread around the region. Alexander the Great minted vast quantities of silver coins, using them to pay his armies and keep them loyal. It is believed that this significantly contributed to his ability to expand across three continents.

Contribution to Retail History

Coins increased social mobility and opened up trading opportunities between cities, nations and continents. Signifying a token of trust, with a stored value that was redeemable over time, coins enabled traders and customers to conduct a ‘fair exchange’ of agreed, recognised worth.

The History Of Retail In 100 Objects Is Available As A Free Podcast

History of Retail Podcast

In Retail Conversation With…

David Roth In Retail Conversation with

It was great to do this webcast with Bryan. It’s packed with insights which would be helpful for anyone looking at how to be more successful for the holiday session 2014/5. Not that much planning time to go…scary.

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