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Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. (January 11, 1864 – May 8, 1947)




























Harry G. Selfridge was an American-born retail magnate, who founded the British department store Selfridges.

Selfridge was born in Ripon, Wisconsin, USA on January 11, 1864, but within months of his birth moved to Jackson, Michigan. His father did not return home after the Civil War, although he had been honourably discharged, so his mother supported the family by teaching school.

In 1879, Selfridge joined the retail firm of Field, Leiter and Company (which became Marshall Field and Company, later bought by Macy's.) in Chicago. Over the following 25 years, Selfridge worked his way up the commercial ladder. He was appointed a junior partner, married Rosalie Buckingham (of the prominent Chicago Buckinghams) and amassed a considerable personal fortune.

While at Marshall Field, he was the first to promote Christmas sales with the phrase "Only _____ Shopping Days Until Christmas", a catchphrase that quickly was picked up by retailers in other markets. Either he or Marshall Field is also credited with originating the phrase "The customer is always right." Later Hotelier César Ritz advertised in 1908, 'Le client n'a jamais tort' ('The customer is never wrong').John Wanamaker also took note of the advertising, and was soon using that phrase in promoting his Philadelphia-based department store chain.

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