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Mr. Selfridge, a great story; how about Mr. Silverman?

 

CIBC bank in 1924 on Elm St. Photo By Marg Seregelyi 2004

Silverman’s Department Store was full of magic and memories for many Sudbury shoppers.

Did you watch the British period drama Mr. Selfridge on PBS’s Masterpiece Theatre? The series is based on the life of Harry Gordon Selfridge, the American entrepreneur who founded the London department store in 1909. The final episode was May 22. Spoiler alert: he died broke.
Selfridges is currently owned by Canadian Galen Weston, who also owns Holt Renfrew and has a controlling interest in Loblaws.
Department stores such as Selfridges have always been about dreaming, which is why some people can browse at Holt’s in Toronto or Harrod’s in London for hours and never buy anything. How many of you are dreamers?
My mom, who grew up in the Depression, is a dreamer. She doesn’t have to consume anything to enjoy the shopping experience. She doesn’t feel deprived because she will never own a pair of $600 shoes. Mom gets her retail therapy for free.
As a privileged and spoiled baby boomer, I am more about consuming and I find fantasy shopping frustrating. (And my Visa bill maddening.) I want what I want and I want it now. I deserve those designer shoes, don’t I?
The young millennial generation, born between 1980 and 2000, has different consuming habits. Currently, they shop at stores but purchase products online. This trend is challenging and worrisome for retailers, the people who work in retail, and media that depend on retailers’ advertising dollars.
Still, new stores are opening all the time such as Diggs & Dwellings that offer unique shopping experiences. Every time a new store opens in Sudbury, there is a lineup in the parking lot. American stores Saks and Nordstrom are opening big dreamy stores on Yonge St. in Toronto. There are still lots of boomers out there and, God willing, we will be buying things for a long time.
My friends who worked at Silverman’s department store years ago were fans of another British series, Are You Being Served? because it brought back memories for them. Many of you may have memories of working and shopping at Silverman’s. I would love to hear from you. I think there may be a good story there.

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