The Urbanist

Department stores

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Cover art for The Urbanist

28 January 2016

Episode 224

30 minutes


Photo: Martin Pettitt

Department stores have redefined the shopping habits of many but what impact did they actually have in the city when they first appeared? We look at the history of the London department store and head to Paris to explore France’s first, Le Bon Marché. We also discover that Istanbul’s old hans are a century-old department store equivalent. Plus: we meet Jerry Storch, CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company.

28 January 2016

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Chapter 1

9 minutes


Photo: Lorenzo G

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Chapter 1

The history of the London department store

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In Georgian times window shopping was transformed into a leisure activity, perhaps explaining why most department stores invested in grand window displays from the start. But with their arrival came not only new shopping habits but also new models of business often leading to the transformation of entire neighbourhoods and streets.

9 minutes

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Chapter 2

3 minutes


Photo: Jumilla

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Chapter 2

Paris and Le Bon Marché

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We dive into 19th-century Paris, a time and a place where department stores were still a dazzling novelty and would transform urban landscapes for centuries to come. Join us on a historical tour of France’s first department store, Le Bon Marché.

3 minutes

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Chapter 3

7 minutes


Photo: Miguel Virkkunen Carvalho

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Chapter 3

Istanbul’s old hans

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If department stores are places where you can get everything under one roof, Istanbul has had them for centuries. We head to Sultanahmet for a tour of the city’s historic hans.

7 minutes

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Chapter 4

6 minutes


Photo: Roderick Aichinger

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Chapter 4

Jerry Storch, CEO of the Hudson’s Bay Company

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The Hudson’s Bay Company was founded in Canada in 1670 as a simple trader of furs; today it has grown into a gigantic coperation, managing the biggest network of department stores in the country. We chat with Jerry Storch, CEO of Hudson’s Bay Company, about his work and how the company has become one of Canada’s most treasured national brands.

6 minutes

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