Ripon, Wisconsin, United States: Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. was an American retail magnate who founded the London-based department store Selfridges.
Harry Gordon Selfridge, Sr. 11 January 1858 – 8 May 1947 was an American retail magnate who founded the London-based department store Selfridges. His 20-year leadership of Selfridges led to his becoming one of the most respected and wealthy retail magnates in the United Kingdom.
Born in Ripon, Wisconsin, Selfridge delivered newspapers and left school at 14 when he found work at a bank in Jackson, Michigan. After another series of jobs, Selfridge found a position at Marshall Field’s in Chicago, where he stayed for the next 25 years. In 1890 he married Rose Buckingham of the prominent Chicago Buckingham family.
In following a trip to London, Selfridge invested 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 he retired in 1941. In later life, Selfridge lost most of his fortune.
He died 8 May 1947, in Putney, London, aged 89 and was buried in St Mark’s Churchyard at Highcliffe, Dorset next to his wife and mother.