Advert for the Alderson & Co Department Store
Medium: Print on paper
This is an advertisment for Alderson and Company, clothing store.
Department stores developed in Britain in the mid-to-late 1800s. In previous decades it had been common for shop assistants to actually live in rooms adjoining the store. With the introduction of shorter opening hours, new labour laws, and better public transport it became more common for shop assistants to commute to work. As a result, many store owners were left with large empty rooms above the shop floor. A number of them began to expand their stores into the abandoned rooms, broadening the range of products they sold as they did so. Some of the empty space would be used as storerooms. This was the birth of the modern department store.
The department store also changed the way goods were bought. Items were now clearly individually priced, ending the tradition of haggling in such stores. All business was done in cash. Because so many of them lived offsite, staff were now paid a salary rather than on a commission basis.