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Article
Publication date: 19 January 2010

Beth Kreydatus

The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of a significant group of retail employees, specifically the African‐American operations and service workers that…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to explore the experiences of a significant group of retail employees, specifically the African‐American operations and service workers that worked behind the scenes in department stores during the Jim Crow era, defined here as 1890‐1965.

Design/methodology/approach

Department stores have rightly occupied a prominent place in business historiography. This wealth of scholarship can be explained partly by substantial archival resources, but especially by department stores' significance to US business, cultural, and social history. Yet, despite this rich historiography, a significant number of department store employees have been overlooked, and this omission has distorted the picture of the work culture and marketing strategies of these massive and influential retail institutions. Department stores employ a large number of operations and service staff, such as delivery people, housekeeping and maintenance workers, elevator operators, stock workers, packers, and warehouse workers. These positions make up roughly one‐fifth of all department store work. This paper presents a close study of the two most prominent department stores of early and mid‐twentieth century Richmond, Virginia – Thalhimers and Miller & Rhoads – to offer insight into the work culture and workplace experiences of these employees.

Findings

Ultimately, this paper shows that African‐American employees played an important role in the maintenance and image of Richmond department stores. Store managers place high demands for “loyalty” and “faithfulness” on their black staff to demonstrate their lavish services to the buying public. For black employees, this means that the work environment can be highly stressful, as they seek to meet competing demands from customers and co‐workers. However, department store work offers opportunities, in particular, steady employment among a close network of African‐American coworkers. Finally, the presence of segregated black employees undermines managements' attempts to convey their workforce as one “happy family.”

Research limitations/implications

The research is entirely based on two high‐end department stores, Miller & Rhoads and Thalhimers, both based in Richmond, Virginia. Two store archives – available at the Valentine Richmond History Center and the Virginia Historical Society – are the primary resources for this project. Because, the papers in these archives are donated by store managers, a limitation to this study is the dearth of unmediated voices of the employees themselves.

Originality/value

This research adds to the historiography of department stores by shedding light on employees who are expected by employers to remain nearly invisible in their jobs, and unfortunately, have been fairly invisible in the historical record as well.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 2 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 4 November 2013

Ellen McArthur

– The purpose of this paper is to present historical research on marketing practices in department stores of the 1880-1930 period using primary source records from Australia.

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Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present historical research on marketing practices in department stores of the 1880-1930 period using primary source records from Australia.

Design/methodology/approach

The paper draws from primary records including retail trade journals, mass circulation newspapers, and other contemporary sources, but mainly from the archives of The Master Retailers' Association (MRA). The MRA was the dominant industry employers' organisation in Australia, and possibly the first retail association of its kind in the Western world. Secondary sources have also been used to supplement the primary records, and to provide context, and cross-cultural comparisons.

Findings

The findings demonstrate the antecedents of a range of marketing practices that today we presume are modern, including sales promotion, trade promotion, direct mail, destination retailing, advertising, and consumer segmentation. This supports other scholars' research into marketing's long history.

Originality/value

This paper contributes original knowledge to the neglected field of Australian marketing history and connects the pioneering practices of retailers to the broader field of marketing. While some outstanding retail histories exist for the USA, UK, and France, the Australian story has remained largely uncovered.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 5 no. 4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 15 August 2016

Dale Miller and Bill Merrilees

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the historical contributions of complex innovations (both creative and tactical components) in a formative period in a major…

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1069

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to investigate the historical contributions of complex innovations (both creative and tactical components) in a formative period in a major Australian department store, David Jones Ltd.

Design/methodology/approach

The study uses a context-specific lens to examine complex retail innovation. The study adopts a longitudinal design with the focus on a single firm, which met the inclusion criteria. Data collection was predominately from company archival materials and publicly available documents, including newspapers.

Findings

An in-depth analysis of two complex innovations demonstrates the retailer’s successful management of both marketing exploration (innovation) and marketing exploitation of that innovation. Effective marketing requires operational, tactical marketing exploitation to dovetail marketing exploration.

Research limitations/implications

The study is limited to one successful department store. Notwithstanding, there are expectations that the lessons extend to many other retailing organizations.

Practical implications

The practical relevance is clear, with the emphasis on retail innovation (and especially complex innovation) as a basis for both surviving and thriving in an ever-changing marketing environment.

Originality/value

The use of a complex innovation approach is a novel way of examining marketing history. The study concludes that both marketing exploration and marketing exploitation are essential for retail longevity.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 8 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 8 October 2018

Chinmay Tumbe and Shashank Krishnakumar

This paper aims to understand the factors affecting the evolution of retailing in India since the mid-nineteenth century.

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420

Abstract

Purpose

This paper aims to understand the factors affecting the evolution of retailing in India since the mid-nineteenth century.

Design/methodology/approach

This paper compares the trajectories of four distinct retail stores in India – Spencer’s pan-Indian retailing empire since 1863, Akbarallys’ department store chain in Mumbai since 1897, Apna Bazar’s consumer cooperative chain in Mumbai since 1948 and the Future Group’s pan-Indian retailing chain since the 1980s. Historical sources include firm biographies and newspaper archives.

Findings

This paper proposes a systems theory linking environmental influences and service innovation, to explain the evolution of retailing in India since the mid-nineteenth century. The key environmental influence on retailing has been state patronage – colonialism and high-end department stores until the 1940s, socialism and cooperative stores until the 1980s and liberalisation with restricted foreign direct investment in retailing until 2015 associated with indigenous corporate large retail format stores. Service innovation in terms of home delivery and recreation of the bazaar atmosphere due to norms on gender and community have also interacted to shape individual success in modern retailing and the dominance of small shop retailing over the long run.

Research limitations/implications

This paper questions standard accounts of retailing history in India that began with the late-twentieth century by showing the scale of a pan-Indian retailing chain in the early-twentieth century. It also provides an account of retailers that is missing in the current literature on the history of consumption in India.

Practical implications

Findings of this study will be useful to marketing professionals and teachers who wish to learn more about the history of retailing in India. It also shows how retailers navigated changes in the regulatory and business environment.

Originality/value

Through a comparative study, this paper outlines the environmental influences on retail formats and service innovation strategies that are required to serve the Indian market. It also brings to fore the significance of retailing chains in colonial India.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 10 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 20 February 2017

Ronald Savitt

The purpose of this paper was to document the development of a major regional department store from the firm’s start to the completion of a single block structure…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper was to document the development of a major regional department store from the firm’s start to the completion of a single block structure including the warehouses required to support its operations.

Design/methodology/approach

The study is based on a survey of historic materials including the recently available archival materials in the Oregon Historical Society Research Library.

Findings

The study reveals the interaction of vision, planning and risk taking in a family enterprise over two generations. It illustrates the search for information as to what was required and the importance of architectural elements in the construction and operation of their store.

Research limitations/implications

The archival materials are extensive; however, over the years, much of the operating data were destroyed or lost. Although family members remain in Oregon, they are reluctant to discuss the store’s history, even though the matters that affected them took place many years after the study’s period.

Originality/value

Much of the information collected in the study had never been used in previous work.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 9 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 11 February 2014

Barbara Walsh

– The purpose of this paper is to present a view of how a retail chain store and its marketing strategies impacted on shopping habits in twentieth century Ireland.

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to present a view of how a retail chain store and its marketing strategies impacted on shopping habits in twentieth century Ireland.

Design/methodology/approach

Primary and secondary sources include company documents, oral history and press reports. Background social, political and economic factors are considered in conjunction with the methods this firm used to build customer-driven managed marketing systems and teams of good staff relationships.

Findings

Woolworth's Irish stores responded to changing tastes and needs of consumers throughout Ireland. The Irish market required skilful techniques to overcome widening divisions within customer profiles to accommodate increasing north-south and urban-rural patterns. Welcomed by shoppers of all ages and genders, this firm's contribution to Ireland's retailing and wider commercial scene was innovative, popular, flexible and influential.

Originality/value

The overview of this well-known retail chain store's experience in twentieth century Ireland can provide scholars with building blocks on which to expand knowledge and develop further understanding of a largely un-tapped field of research within the history of marketing in Ireland.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 6 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 1 May 1983

Louis P. Bucklin

One of the more engrossing facets of marketing in the United States is the metamorphosis of retail institutional form. For well over 100 years, many historians and…

Abstract

One of the more engrossing facets of marketing in the United States is the metamorphosis of retail institutional form. For well over 100 years, many historians and marketers have been fascinated by the successful entry of new types of retail organisations into the market and the gradual demise of the old. This interest has resulted in an extensive literature describing these changes and, in more recent years, a succession of theories to explain the process.

Details

International Journal of Physical Distribution & Materials Management, vol. 13 no. 5/6
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0269-8218

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Article
Publication date: 2 October 2019

Susan Krug Friedman

Over the years, department stores have dealt with unique challenges, including massive changes in city and then suburban landscapes and shopping patterns, shifts in…

Abstract

Purpose

Over the years, department stores have dealt with unique challenges, including massive changes in city and then suburban landscapes and shopping patterns, shifts in consumer preferences, and, more recently, electronic commerce. The purpose of this paper is to discuss additional community-oriented marketing approaches for department stores.

Design/methodology/approach

The approach looks at the role of traditional department stores in communities and their economic impact and uses ideas from a variety of community-based mobile services, including medical, food and library outreach.

Findings

The findings are that the importance of physical retailers such as department stores to a community deserves further consideration by civic and business leaders and that a variety of services and products have been successfully marketed in communities through additional approaches such as mobile units.

Social implications

The approaches presented could enhance community development.

Originality/value

While department stores have held distinctive places in many cities, these enterprises lack the type of regional fan base that advocates actively for other kinds of industries. A community-oriented marketing approach for department stores is discussed, with ideas for future research that could build on these stores’ special brand attributes and on their contributions to the viability of an area.

Details

American Journal of Business, vol. 34 no. 3/4
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1935-5181

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Article
Publication date: 20 March 2009

D.G. Brian Jones, Eric H. Shaw and Deborah Goldring

The purpose of this paper is to examine the history of the Conferences on Historical Analysis & Research in Marketing (CHARM) from their inception in 1983 through 2007…

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine the history of the Conferences on Historical Analysis & Research in Marketing (CHARM) from their inception in 1983 through 2007 focusing on the influence of Stanley C. Hollander, who co‐founded the CHARM conference and whose drive and determination fueled its growth for the first 20 years.

Design/methodology/approach

This study uses traditional historical narrative based on personal interviews, archival research, and content analysis of CHARM Proceedings.

Findings

The history of CHARM is described and Hollander's role in developing the conference is highlighted.

Originality/value

There is no written history of CHARM. This story is a major part of Hollander's legacy.

Details

Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, vol. 1 no. 1
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 1755-750X

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Article
Publication date: 1 March 1993

John Pal

Attempts to draw out the salient factors at work during the late1970s and 1980s that led to success, initially, in the retail sector,but ultimately to the failure of the…

Abstract

Attempts to draw out the salient factors at work during the late 1970s and 1980s that led to success, initially, in the retail sector, but ultimately to the failure of the company in 1990. Charts the successes: the first retailer in Europe to introduce a comprehensive EPoS system; the company′s expansion; one of the first retailers to embrace the concept of lifestyle retailing; the introduction of its own stylecard for customer credit; and product and market development, including own‐labels. Bad management decisions produced internal conflicts in stores (especially where three trading formats operated in one store); increased use of concessions within other stores; acquisition bids by other companies. Profits fell, stores were closed and staff redundancies occurred; finally resulting in the company going into receivership.

Details

International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management, vol. 21 no. 3
Type: Research Article
ISSN: 0959-0552

Keywords

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