In the last couple of years, a rapid transformation of the retail landscape has been witnessed in terms of both technological advancement and consumer preference. Online retail has made a big bang entry and witnessed exponential expansion. However, physical stores that are more like destinations, and which shock-and-awe customers with their sheer space and concepts, continue to be popular.
Here’s a look at the 14 city-like department stores across the world that will, perhaps, never cease to draw customers in. The list has been originally compiled by CNN.
11 Le Bon Marche, Paris
Often considered the world’s first modern department store, Le Bon Marche Rive Gauche has been the chicest place to shop in Paris since its opening in 1852. Located along the Left Bank of the Seine, the store is less crowded than its counterparts on the other side of the river, making it popular with celebrities and with locals.
From the get-go, Le Bon Marche was an innovator coming up with ideas, like reading rooms for idle husbands, that were imitated around the world. In early 2016, the store was the first retail space to host Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s “Child’s Play” exhibition — showcasing two dozen whimsical bamboo and paper installations.
The store’s 3,000-square-meter food market La Grande Epicerie is a slice of French food heaven.
22 Selfridges, London
Founded in 1909, Selfridges has been voted as the world’s best department store at the last three biennial Global Department Store Summits. It was founded by Harry Gordon Selfridge.
The basis of Selfridge’s success was his relentlessly innovative marketing, which was elaborately expressed in his Oxford Street store. Originally from America himself, Selfridge attempted to dismantle the idea that consumerism was strictly an American phenomenon. He tried to make shopping a fun adventure and a form of leisure instead of a chore, transforming the department store into a social and cultural landmark.
Either Selfridge or Marshall Field( founder of Marshall Field and Company, the Chicago-based department stores) is popularly held to have coined the phrase “the customer is always right”, and Selfridge used it regularly in his advertising.
33 Bergdorf Goodman, New York
Bergdorf Goodman is a luxury goods department store based on Fifth Avenue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City. The company was founded in 1899 by Herman Bergdorf and was later owned and managed by Edwin Goodman, and later his son Andrew Goodman.
The company traces its origins to 1899 when Herman Bergdorf, an immigrant from Alsace, France, opened a tailor shop just above Union Square in downtown Manhattan.
Edwin Goodman, a 23-year-old, American Jewish merchant, based in Lockport, New York, moved to New York City to work as an apprentice for Bergdorf.
44 GUM, Moscow
GUM was built between 1890 and 1893 by Alexander Pomerantsev and Vladimir Shukhov. Moscow’s national department store GUM on Red Square has a rich and mysterious history that few can rival.
The glass- roofed design made the building unique at the time of construction. The roof, the diameter of which is 46 ft (14 m), looks light, but it is a firm construction made of more than 50,000 metal pods (about 819 short tons (743 t), capable of supporting snowfall accumulation. Illumination is provided by huge arched skylights of iron and glass, each weighing some 820 short tons (740 t) and containing in excess of 20,000 panes of glass. The facade is divided into several horizontal tiers, lined with red Finnish granite, Tarusa marble, and limestone. Each arcade is on three levels, linked by walkways of reinforced concrete.
55 Illums Bolighus, Copenhagen
Illums Bolighus was founded in 1925 under the name BO of the Danish businessman Kaj Dessau . BO’s concept was not seen before in the world, no business before had integrated textiles and furniture in combination with art.
With six other stores around Denmark, Norway and Sweden, Illums Bolighus aims to showcase the best of Scandinavian minimalist design. It carries international brands that match its sleek style.
66 Isetan, Tokyo
Generating the highest sales of any department store in Japan, Isetan’s flagship store in Shinjuku is a massive nine-floor shopping maze.
Arguably the trendiest department store in Japan, Isetan Shinjuku is renowned for having its window displays created by leading artists and offers only the finest in food, clothing and homeware.
Like most department stores in Japan, Isetan has an impressive food market in the basement, especially for exquisite-looking desserts. Its promotional hall and a kimono department are on the top floor.
77 Galeries Lafayette, Paris
The Galeries Lafayette is an upmarket French department store chain. Its flagship store is on Boulevard Haussmann in the 9th arrondissement of Paris but it now operates in a number of other locations in France and other countries.
It’s not just a retail space for upscale merchandise, the glamorous store is such a dazzling spectacle it’s a top tourist attraction in its own right.
88 Harrods, London
Once a humble drapery store, Harrods is now the biggest and the most extravagant — in terms of installations — department store in Europe, with a retail space of 90,000 square meters. There’s the $39 million “Egyptian” escalator in the middle of the store.
The Harrods motto is Omnia Omnibus Ubique, which is Latin for ‘All Things for All People, Everywhere’. Several of its departments, including the seasonal Christmas department and the Food Halls, are well known.
99 Kaufhaus des Westens, Berlin
Kaufhaus des Westens (commonly known as KaDeWe) is the largest department store in mainland Europe, spanning 60,000 square meters of retail space.
The historic establishment — first opened in 1907 — was severely damaged when an American plane crashed into the building during World War II. That, however, didn’t stop business for long. It was restored in 1950 and has stood as a significant landmark of post-war Berlin ever since.
Between 1976 and 1978, the store’s floor space was expanded from 24,000 sq-m to 44,000 sq-m. Just after the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, KaDeWe recorded a record-breaking number of people going through the store. By 1996, with a further floor and restaurant added, the sales area had expanded to 60,000 sq-m
1010 Nordiska Kompaniet, Stockholm
Standing in the heart of Stockholm, Nordiska Kompaniet (NK) is Sweden’s oldest luxury department store.
The store in Stockholm receives some twelve million visitors annually, with the figure for the store in Gothenburg being about three million and the total number of staff around 1,200. The trademark and the real estate properties in Gothenburg and Stockholm are owned by Hufvudstaden AB, controlled by L E Lundbergföretagen publ.
1111 10 Corso Como, Milan
10 Corso Como is a shopping and dining complex in Milan, Italy. It combines outlets that show and sell works of art, fashion, music, design, cuisine and culture. It was founded in 1990 by gallerist and publisher Carla Sozzani.
The complex began with an art gallery and a bookshop. Other spaces soon followed: a design and fashion store in 1991, the 10 Corso Como Cafè in 1998, a small hotel (with only three rooms) in 2003, and the Roof Garden in 2009.
1212 Eslite Spectrum Songyan Store, Taipei
Mainly known for its book-selling business, Eslite Spectrum doesn’t fit the usual department store profile. The 27-year-old alternative store sells various lifestyle products, including specialty foods and handicrafts from Taiwan.
The lifestyle brand now owns more than 40 stores around Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as one in China. The space, services and events are all designed according to the traits of the city in which the store is located.
1313 Barneys New York
While the original Barneys originally opened close to this 7th Avenue spot in 1923, but this is a new incarnation of the chic fashion store.
The opening in Chelsea on 7th Avenue between 16th Street and 17th Street marks the return of the store to the same block that the company was founded on in 1923, and where it maintained an iconic presence through the late 1990’s. The store will occupy almost an entire city block giving a new presence to the 7th Avenue streetscape, and offering a unique and timeless luxury shopping experience for downtown customers.
Designed by award-winning New York-based architectural firm Steven Harris Architects, the new 55,000 square foot flagship, spanning five floors, will include men’s and women’s RTW, footwear, accessories, cosmetics, a Blind Barber barbershop, and a Freds restaurant, with a luxurious and modern aesthetic consistent with the Barneys New York brand.
1414 Nihonbashi Mitsukoshi Main Store, Tokyo
Mitsukoshi’s main store in Nihonbashi may not be Tokyo’s most fashion-forward store — that honor goes to Laforet Harajuku — but the century-old store has a renowned gentleman’s department.
Japan’s oldest department store chain made headlines last year with their unusual hire — a kimono-wearing android. Aiko Chihira, the Toshiba-developed robot is in charge of the information desk at in Nihonbashi. The department store said it hopes the robot will be an effective tool in giving directions to customers and boosting store campaigns.