Posted by ESC on November 19, 2002
In Reply to: Gordon's Midlife Crisis posted by Word Camel on November 19, 2002
: : SHOPPING DAYS UNTIL CHRISTMAS - American retailer H. Gordon Selfridge (1856-1947) coined this expression - " __ shopping days until Christmas" while working for Marshall Field & Co. in Chicago. Later he coined the slogan "the customer is always right" when he opened Selfridge's in London. From the "Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins" by Robert Hendrickson (Facts on File, New York, 1997).
: But the story doesn't end there. According to Bill Bryon's book, Notes From a Small Island, Gordon worked diligently for years building Selfridges into a British institution. And then his wife died in 1918. After years of hard work, he went a little mad and took up with a pair of Hungarian-American twins known as the Dolly Sisters. They performed music halls. Actually he went madder than that even. He bought lavish houses and race horses, gambled his way through Europe and eventually blew his entire fortune. He lost control of Selfridges and died in poverty in a small flat in Putney. I am not sure what happened to the Dollys.
I found the "shopping days" entry while browsing for another phrase. I thought Selfridge sounded familiar. I am reading a book called "Raw Deal" (purchased from Amazon.com) and his story (including the Dollys) was in that book. I think the Dollys came to a bad end. I'll check. I am reading Raw Deal to cheer myself up.