Do you think “Black Friday” shopping fervor is a recent invention?
While the earliest known use of “Black Friday” (specifically referring to shopping on the day after Thanksgiving) dates to 1961, the term has been used going back to the 19th century — and the dawn of the department store.
And, though stores-with-multiple-departments have been around since the 1700s, the birth of the department store, as we have come to know it, was in the earliest days of the 1900s. The best known of these stores, Selfridges, (thanks to the PBS television series of the same name) was established on Oxford Street in London by American-born Harry Gordon Selfridge. Selfridge was renown for launching extravagant and innovative marketing strategies based on the radical new notion of “shopping for pleasure.” His store was structured so that goods could be made more accessible to customers. In addition, Selfridge “manufactured” a number of flamboyant strategies to attract the buying public to the store, and he kept them there with a combination of merchandising artistry, sales moxie, and entertainment. These events were extensively promoted through paid advertising.
Even in the days before instant global information sharing, H. G. Selfridge’s grand ideas spread like wildfire. By the late 19-aughts, half a world away. Indianapolis’s own highly-competitive stores were duking it out for the attention of the holiday shopper, in a Selfridge-similar style (as evidenced in the advertising of the Indianapolis Star newspaper).
In the evening newspaper on Thanksgiving 1909, the Sander and Recker Furniture Store offered customers a free exhibit of well-known Hoosier Group artist, T.C. Steele’s landscape paintings — which must have been quite a treat for local culture-hungry patrons. Incidentally, respected architect and furniture designer, Gustav Stickley (also featured in the advertisement) is still highly admired today. His furniture is worth hundreds, and in some cases, thousands of dollars. Only one known Stickley-designed home still exists in the state of Indiana: 59 North Hawthorne Lane, in Irvington.
The Sander and Recker Furniture store was first organized in 1878 at 103-107 East Washington Street. Founder Theodore Sander was born in Germany in 1844. He immigrated to the United States in 1864, and settled in Cincinnati, Ohio. There he served in the 165th Ohio Infantry Regiment, Company D. Sander later moved to Indianapolis. Co-founder Gottried Recker (born in 1834) was also a German immigrant, who came to the United States in 1854. He settled in Indianapolis, and was a cabinet-maker. The store operated until 1935.
Any one who steps into the store Monday will be forcibly reminded of the near approach of Christmas. Weeks of preparation — of buying, unpacking and arranging — have culminated in these splendid holiday displays that are seen in every part of the store. We have never looked forward to a better holiday season nor provided for it more bountifully. Everything points to an increased appreciation of the benefits of early shopping. The advantages to all concerned are well understood and we are pleased to note already a decided increase in the number of Christmas shoppers. Join them tomorrow at Indiana’s Christmas headquarters.”