"...as modern as some of the fine new departmental stores... can make it" : a social history of the large Water Street stores, St. John's, Newfoundland, 1892-1949

Wheaton, Carla J. (2002) "...as modern as some of the fine new departmental stores... can make it" : a social history of the large Water Street stores, St. John's, Newfoundland, 1892-1949. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Contrary to some of the stereotypes perpetuated in the literature, early Newfoundland society and culture were not static nor unaffected by external developments, a condition supposedly engendered by its isolated position as an island in the North Atlantic ocean. Although perhaps not in the thick of the social and economic changes taking place in western Europe and in much of North America resulting from industrialization, urbanization, and social and geographic mobility, many Newfoundlanders felt the impact of these modern forces indirectly, influencing the ways in which they lived. worked and shopped. This thesis focuses on the latter activity, exploring changing consumer behaviour and rising rates of consumption among people living in St. John's over the period from 1892 to 1949 through a study of the retailing practices of the large Water Street stores. -- In many ways, city consumers were adopting and adapting trends noted by contemporary social commentators in the U.S. and Canada, trends which have since been associated with a rising consumer culture and the development of consumer societies in recent scholarly works on the subject. In the absence of industrialization on the scale experienced in many nineteenth-century European and North American cities, how did St. John's society come to accept many of the practices, attitudes and values of Western consumer cultures? It is argued that as the city's largest retailers, the department stores lining Water Street played a central role in introducing elements of a modern consumer culture to St. John's through their ads. sales, promotions and displays. In addition to importing goods for sale in their stores, store owners and managers also imported modern retailing techniques to sell merchandise, thereby altering the relationship between consumers and retailers and between people and goods, integrating Newfoundlanders into a North American wav of life.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/1137
Item ID: 1137
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 390-407.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > History
Date: 2002
Date Type: Submission
Geographic Location: Canada--Newfoundland and Labrador--Avalon Peninsula--St. John's
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Department stores--Newfoundland and Labrador--St. John's--History; Shopping--Newfoundland and Labrador--St. John's--History; Consumers--Newfoundland and Labrador--St. John's--History

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