Paris is a major hotspot of fashion and glamour. This place has given us the world’s best designers, like Yves Saint Laurent, Coco Chanel, and Christian Dior. These are some of the iconic names who have gifted the world some of fashion history’s most enduring iconography.
Do you know about the world’s oldest department store? You will be surprised to know it is in Paris? This department store names as Le Bon Marché, which was founded in 1852. It holds the title of the most extended and oldest-running department store in the world.
But how did they manage to survive in this market?
The answer is simple: revolutionizing. Le Bon Marché has maintained a steady footfall and evolved with the change in the retail industry. In the 19th Century, if you needed a purse, you went to a shop specializing in the purse. This was the same for women’s clothing or shoes. Most of the shops are specialized in one single item, but Le Bon Marché managed to provide their customers with a whole shopping experience under the same roof. Finding everything from bedsheets to trousers, and hairdryers to dishware all under one roof was an innovative idea that became famous under the Boucicaut’s leadership in large part at Le Bon Marché.
They had a gathering space for the female bourgeoisie
The store became a haven of freedom and pleasure for the Parisian women of the bourgeoisie. The monied wives were able to spend an entire day socializing and daydreaming. The streets used to be vulnerable at those times, so the department stores became accessible for women and became their spaces, which was significant.
But Le Bon Marché made it very clear to let every customer in, be it lower, middle or upper class. As they made the entry free, the customers would walk in, and it was expected that they might step out without a purchase.
How they expanded
The Boucicauts understood the importance of time spent inside the store and customer loyalty. In the year 1863, after buying out from the Videau brothers and taking the complete ownership, the couple then expanded the space. They introduced new features and services that were total game-changers. The services they added up for waiting husbands were: a salon offering complimentary food and refreshments, hairdressing salon, billiard room, live concert events, and travel office.
Boucicauts’ claim to fame
- The biggest claim to fame for Le Bon Marché was that the design of the building’s steel structure was contributed by the famous engineer Gustave Eiffel.
- The most significant legacy of Boucicauts’ to this day was support to the fine arts. In 1875, they opened an art gallery within the department store.
Today, 145 years later, if you stroll through the store, you can see a lot of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and drawings.
Rebranding of Le Bon Marché
Le Bon Marché has expanded and designed the store in an inspiring way. They have got ample space throughout the store. This world’s oldest departmental store is there for everybody to discover new things, to be surprised, to stop and to enjoy coffee and relax.
If you get to visit Paris next time, this department store must be on your list to visit. You can experience this store and stroll through it as if you are walking through the streets of Paris. You will also get to experience architectural gems around the store. So next time, when you plan your visit to Paris, don’t forget to visit the world’s oldest departmental store which feels like the street of Paris.