. . . and other trivial facts about a Knightsbridge store that’s not in Knightsbridge but Brompton Road.
Harrods opens its doors to 100,000 shoppers a day rising to 300,000 at peak shopping for Christmas, it has 5 acres of floor space and employs 12,000 staff.
A Harrods male assistant is expected to look ’smart, sophisticated and debonair’, while female employees should present a ’timeless, sophisticated elegance’.
Not an enthusiast of ‘ascending rooms’ in 1898 Harrods manager elected to install an escalator. The novel experience of travelling unaided forced him to engage the services of an attendant dispensing brandy to gentlemen shoppers and Epsom Salts to the ladies.
Rival Harry Selfridge (who did install a lift in his store for mistresses to arrive unobserved) made a bet with the Harrods managing director who would make the greater profit in 1917. Harrods won; Selfridge had a silver replica of the store commissioned. Its replica is on display on the ground floor.
Animals and their parts were once sold. One customer ordered a skunk for his e-wife. Noel Coward bought an alligator for Christmas. President Ronald Regan was given a Harrods elephant and a fossil found in Texas, imported to England, was bought by a Texan and exported it to – Texas.
Others would call them doormen but at Harrods they are ‘carriage assistants’. The seven of them opening doors, conveying packages to awaiting limousines and ensuring Harrods dress code is enforced by those entering its hallowed doors.
In 1959 some bright spark decided 1,100 bulbs could be used to decorate the store’s exterior for Christmas. Today their number has grown to 12,000; 30 bulbs have to be changed every day.
Its motto “All things to all people, everywhere” was once taken to its logical extreme when in 1916 they retailed a kit described as ‘A welcome Present for Friends at the Front’ containing cocaine, morphine, syringes and needles.
Deep pockets are needed for Ambootia Snowmist tea, picked before dawn to preserve their natural fragrance they retail for £4,800kg in Harrods food hall.
Probably the most useless beverage sold was PG Tips diamond encrusted tea bag. Created by Boodles Jewellers using Makaibari silver tips for the British tea brand’s 75th anniversary it was offered to customers at £9,300.