Changing Forms of Retail in the Arcades

There are similarities between the type of goods that are sold in the arcades in Cardiff today and those that were sold in 1909. The arcades were filled with milliners, drapers and dressmakers selling items which are in many ways similar to the items sold in clothes shops today. Despite this, however, the Cardiff Directory from 1909 suggests a completely different approach to retail with a far bigger emphasis on the individuals who own the businesses than we see now.

The directory states the names of the owners of every single business in the arcade, their names being the main differentiating factor between different shops that sold the same goods: H.A. Timothy Tobacconist, E. Mitchell Tobacconist and E. Norman Tobacconist being three examples of this trend. This illustrates not only our changing attitude towards tobacco but also our changing attitude towards retail. Today it would be impossible to record the names of the all of the business owners in the arcades. This is in part because some are chain shops, but even those businesses which can only be found in the arcades tend to shy away from using names in their shop titles.

Here the Cardiff arcades exemplify how retail has in many ways become less personal over the past one hundred years. Shop names such as Jotham and Sons Outfitters have been replaced by names like Dress2Party which place emphasis on the goods themselves rather than the service provided by the employees of the business, demonstrating how the success of a business is no longer bound with the respectability and good name of its owner.

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