|Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr.|
Harry Gordon Selfridge circa 1910
|Born||11 January 1856|
|Died||8 May 1947 (aged 91)|
|Resting place||St Mark's Churchyard, Highcliffe|
|Children||Harry Gordon Selfridge, Jr.|
Rosalie Selfridge (later Wiasemsky)
|Parents||Robert Oliver Selfridge|
Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. (11 January 1856 – 8 May 1947) was an American-born British retail magnate, who founded the London-based department store Selfridges. His 30-year leadership of Selfridges led to him becoming one of the most respected and wealthy retail magnates in the United Kingdom. His property portfolio included Highcliffe Castle inDorset.
Born in Ripon, Wisconsin, Selfridge began to contribute to the family income by delivering newspapers and left school at 14 when he found work at a bank in Jackson, Michigan. Selfridge soon left and worked in a series of menial jobs which included bookkeeping and a position within an insurance company. Selfridge then sought a position at Marshall Field inChicago, where he stayed for the next 25 years, becoming a partner in the business; it was while working at Marshall Field that he originated the phrase "Only _____ Shopping Days Until Christmas". In 1890 he married Rose Buckingham of the prominent Chicago Buckingham family.
Selfridge travelled to England in 1906 and invested £400,000 in his own department store in what was then the unfashionable western end of Oxford Street. The new store opened to the public on 15 March 1909 and Selfridge remained chairman until 1941 when he retired. In later life, Selfridge watched his personal fortune rapidly decline due, in part, to the Great Depression. It finally disappeared—a situation not helped by his continuous free-spending ways. In 1941, he left Selfridges and moved from his lavish home and travelled around London by bus.
He died in 1947, in Putney, London, aged 91 and was buried in St Mark's Churchyard at Highcliffe, Dorset.