Introduction to Harrods
The luxury department store Harrods is arguably the most famous in Britain. It’s hard to miss in London, given its one million square feet of retail space that already covers 330 departments—everything there is can accommodate all kinds of shoppers.
Its inventory boasts of literally everything, from apparel for men and women of all ages to home furnishings and hard to find paintings, a great leap from its former stature back in the 19th century. For a company that has a long history, you may expect it to set in its ways, but recent years saw Harrods join the e-commerce world to make it accessible for more luxury shoppers worldwide. Lucky for you, you don’t have to fly all the way to the UK for exclusive items, although you may have to miss out on the (in)famous food halls.
Here are some of the things you have to know about the UK giant.
From rags to riches
As with many good things, Harrods had humble beginnings as a small shop in London. Founded by a young Charles Henry Harrod, the shop was categorized into many different types: grocery store, mercer, draper. There was even a time that it had to close as business wasn’t as steady as the 25-year-old Harrod initially envisioned, but he powered through. And just when they thought that the business was booming, the store in the district of Brompton (where it currently is) burned down. Thankfully, Harrod had the heart to rebuild a new shop in order to fulfill his Christmas deliveries, and soon enough won the patronage of many notable people from all fields as well as members of the Royal Family.
In 1889, Harrod sold his share to an English businessman by the name of Edgar Cohen. Multiple businessmen have led the department which kept the founder’s name until it was bought by the House of Fraser, and later on was acquired by the Fayed brothers, businessmen from Egypt. In 2010, there were rumors that the store was being sold to the State of Qatar. The plan that was kept under wraps was finalized the same year.
What makes Harrods so special?
The collection, in a nutshell.
While the building it occupies is special in itself, introducing a “moving staircase” or an early version of the escalator as we know it today in as early as 1898, the store in Brompton has many offerings per floor that you’d love to see. For instance, the store has a section on the top floor specifically set aside for designer shoes dubbed the “Harrods Shoe Haven” with footwear from the likes of Christian Louboutin and Chanel. There is also an entire room for pet accessories alone, so animal lovers are also welcome. Harrods Bank is where you can buy actual gold bars, but as expected, they do not come cheap. If you’re looking for artwork, food, or furniture, they have all of those here. Fair warning though, you should only expect the best and the fanciest.
A store guide is available at its website and specialized app if you need to check everything that you may fancy.
The dress code
For a tourist visiting the Big Smoke for the first time, the store is a must-see. Plus, no other department store is a top on a traveler’s list even for its food halls alone. It is estimated that up to 300,000 customers from all over the world flock to Harrods to see all that it has to offer.
But before you head over to London for Harrods, make sure you’re dressed appropriately. Harrods is notorious for having denied people’s entry for not adhering to a dress code. If you’re half-dressed and have to travel a considerable distance to change your clothes, then might as well postpone the visit to another day. Yes, it’s that exclusive despite the motto, and that upscale that you have to fit the look of a person who would actually shop there to get in. No shorts, no flip flops, and no dirty or distressed clothing.
The online experience
Visiting Harrods.com, one would immediately see the different categories that are being offered digitally by the department store. Menswear, party style apparel, and accessories, among them. Shoppers can choose to see the price in their respective currencies and are assured that the UK sales tax will be excluded at the checkout. When waiting for an item to be shipped, there’s no need to worry about any additional fees.
Harrods can also be accessed through your phone with its mobile apps specifically made for the phone-dependent shopper. The iOS and Android versions give a preview to the store’s very own magazine where users can know the trends in luxury fashion as well as lifestyle with videos, audios and other articles. Harrods maintains social media accounts you can also check out for the latest news.
The experience of shopping online with Harrods is not quite at par with going to the actual store in London just yet, but online shoppers should be on the lookout because Harrods is aiming to even improve its digital space because of the growing number of foreigners shopping at the site.
Check it out
The large store is home to yards and yards of spaces, but most of them allotted to exclusive luxury products curated for the modern plush shopper. With the 330 departments it now has, it can be difficult to imagine its origins when it was plagued down by problems in logistics and by accidents. With the 330 departments that has specialized items, it’s also hard to imagine how one can see everything in a matter of just one day!
Thankfully, the centuries-old department store is willing to innovate and keep up with the times, as exhibited by its website and apps. Although still developing, it’s necessary for a healthy competition in the e-commerce world, and a convenient way for international shoppers to see the best the store has to offer, all things for all people, everywhere.