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parsed(2011-07-01) - pubdate: 2011-07-01
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pub date: 1309496400
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Retail Nation

Department Stores and the Making of Modern Canada

July 1, 2011 | Trade Paperback
ISBN: 9780774819480
$32.95
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Description

The experience of walking down a store aisle -- replete with displays, advertisements, salespeople, consumer goods, and infinite choice -- is so common that we often forget retail stores barely existed a century ago.

Retail Nation traces Canada's transformation into a modern consumer nation back to an era when Eaton's, Simpson's, and the Hudson's Bay Company ruled the shopping scene. Between 1890 and 1940, department stores revolutionized selling and shopping by parlaying cheap raw materials, business-friendly government policies, and growing demand for low-priced goods into retail empires that promised to strengthen the nation. Some citizens found happiness and fulfillment in their aisles; others experienced a cold shoulder and a closed door.

Retail Nation showcases department stores as agents of nationalism and modernization but reveals that the nation they helped to define -- white, consumerist, middle-class -- was more limited, and contested, than nostalgic portraits of the early department store suggest.

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About this Author

Donica Belisle has a PhD in Canadian studies and is an assistant professor of women's and gender studies at Athabasca University.

ISBN: 9780774819480
Format: Trade Paperback
Pages: 320
Publisher: UBC Press
Published: 2011-07-01

Reviews

Retail Nation constitutes an important contribution to the history of the development of mass consumption in Canada in the late nineteenth and twentieth century...Belisle explores fully and intelligently the unequal relations of class, race and gender [department stores] embodied, and an important part of the analysis deals with the gendered relations between the stores, their employees and their customers. The book is written with verve, a secure knowledge of the relevant literature and much careful research, and sets a historiographic benchmark for the study of Canadian consumer society.

A thought-provoking study...Belisle draws fruitfully from a vast historiography on department stores...The book's undeniable strength lies above all in Belisle's critique ofthe stores through an engaging recounting of the experience of shopping or working in department stores...Retail Nation makes a timely and important contribution to Canadian scholarship, one that is likely to attract a broad readership.

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