HENRI, HORACE & BARNEYORGANIZATIONS10/18The global retail evolution continues as the landscape is influenced by the growth of the Web, rising real estate costs,and the emergence of new brands that are then accented by changing demographics and shopping patterns. The impact has been particularly profound for many multi-brand department and specialty stores.

With the recent closure of Henri Bendel, I reflected on the numerous leaders who had ideas, took risks,and created incredibly successful store environments over the last hundred years or so in the United States and abroad:Barneys, Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Nordstrom, Harvey Nichols, and Bonmarché to name just a few.One founder started with just a pawned wedding ring, one was a dressmaker, one a milliner’s son,and another wanted to bring Paris to Dallas. All of these visionaries developed businesses with long and colorful histories.

The company cultures were usually comprised of family members, talented merchants, artists, actors in sales, operators, thinkers, designers, construction experts,and other performers,each with a unique focus but common mission. The stories are incredibly rich as evidenced in works such as Émile Zola’s The Ladies’ Paradise, Stanley Marcus’s Minding the Store,and Lindy Woodhead’s Shopping, Seduction & Mr. Selfridge. In many respects these earlier business models set the stage for what is expected today when visiting physical retail environments of all shapes and sizes.

While many companies have exited for a variety of reasons, others are continuing their evolutions by focusing on the elements that have always been a top priority:outstanding people, innovative product/service, sound omni channel integration, effective communication,and most importantly, a genuine customer experience.

Enjoy these articles on some of the innovators:

■ Henri Bendel

■ Horace Saks, Adam Gimbel

■ Barney Pressman

■ Herman Bergdorf & Edwin Goodman

■ Herbert Marcus

■ John Nordstrom

■ Mary & Isaac Magnin

■ Benjamin Altman

■ Rowland Hussey Macy

■ Joseph & Lyman Bloomingdale

■ James Nichols

■ Jules Jaluzot

■ Aristide Boucicaut

■ Théophile Bader & Alphonse Kahn




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