A Parisian Dept. Store 100 Years Ago

Dufayel was a huge department store that sold furniture and housewares. When it opened in 1856, it was called Le Grand Magasin des Nouveautés. When the original owner died in 1888, an ambitious employee called Georges Dufayel bought it and gave it his own name.

Dufayel (1855 -1916) was quite an operator. He either invented or popularized the notion of buying goods on the installment plan and buying from a catalogue. He also sold coupons that could be used in other stores, and took a cut of each transaction.

Les Grands Magasins Dufayel expanded over the years until the store occupied most of a city block to the east of the hill of Montmartre – about a hectare in all. The inside was palatial, with chandeliers and mirrors, and contained a winter garden and a theatre that seated 3,000. On top of the dome was a revolving searchlight of 10 million candlepower – roughly similar to the light that currently revolves on top of the Eiffel Tower. The statues on either side of the entrance represent “Credit” and “Publicity” and over the door is “Progress” riding in a chariot. (For pictures of the interior, click here or here.)

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  1. […] in his honour at the Salle Pleyel, composed of the recently rediscovered films commissioned by the Dufayel Department Store, which were compiled for audiences of children, and which therefore featured a predominance of […]

  2. […] in his honour at the Salle Pleyel, composed of the recently rediscovered films commissioned by the Dufayel Department Store, which were compiled for audiences of children, and which therefore featured a predominance of […]


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