The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – Foire Saint-Germain

Foire St Germain

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

There’s been an annual fair at Foire Saint -Germain in Paris since 1176, and with fairs come trade and produce.In 1482, Louis XI established the fairground for the benefit of the Abbey of Saint -Germain-des-Pres, located nearby. It was destroyed by fire in March 1762, but rose again from the ashes. The fair traditionally lasted from three to five weeks and was staged around Easter. During the 1700s it opened on February 3rd and closed on Palm Sunday. All kinds of exotic acts performed: tightrope walkers, animal trainers, marionette manipulators and more. It was also a great place for trading, bartering and ‘raffling’ of retail merchandise to the highest bidder, as recorded by Philip Skippon, a visitor to the Foire in the 1660s: “the place the fair is kept in, is a large square house with six or seven rows of shops, where customers play at dice when they come to buy things; the commodity is first bought, and then they play who shall pay for it. After candle-lighting is the greatest gaming, sometimes the king comes and dices…” This account of raffling as a social pastime (although we would recognise it today more as a form of auctioning) is corroborated by another Englishman abroad, Martin Lister, who wrote in 1697: “The great rendezvous is at night, after the play and opera are done; and raffling for all things vendible is the great diversion; no shop wanting two or three raffling boards. Monsieur, the Dauphin, and other princes of the blood come, at least once in the fair-time…” Today the Saint-Germain market is covered and is still on part of the old fairground site, hosting antique fairs, pottery days, and festivals.

Contribution to Retail History

Markets and fairs the world over were the precursors to modern retailing and Foire Saint-Germain is one such example. While it may not be feasible to draw a direct line between the raffles held at Foire Saint-Germain in the mid- 17th century and specific developments in retail, it is fair to reflect that the popularity of ‘raffling’ has, in the 21st century seen a surge in popularity with the advent of eBay.

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The History Of Retail In 100 Objects – The Mirror

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.

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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.

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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.

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History of Retail Podcast

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