Monday, July 20, 2015

Frederick Wiseman: 'The Store' (1983)

On the one hand (the rich or pretend rich hand): Prada, Saks Fifth Avenue, Escada, Vera Wang, Oscar de la Renta, Dolce & Gabbana, Georgio Armani, Nordstrom, Barneys New York, Bloomingdale's, Net-A-Porter, A'maree's, Bottega Veneta®, Morris & Sons -- Neiman Marcus, and so forth (see also El Corte Inglés in Madrid and Lisbon).

On the other hand (the poor or working class not pretending hand): The Dollar Store, Dollar Tree, Dollar General.

In between, you name it.

All of the above share being stores or product lines, their owners desiring and needing to sell merchandise. All share having customers who in turn desire, want or need to buy stuff with cash money or credit. 

Given this, Frederick Wiseman's in color "observational cinema" documentary The Store (1983) serves as a microcosmic look at all such stores, from the most expensive to the least. 
The Store, along with numerous other Wiseman films, plus a couple of books, is available directly from Zipporah Films -- which is where I acquired a DVD version. Link here:

Zipporah's description of The Store

'THE STORE is a film about the main Neiman-Marcus store and corporate headquarters in Dallas. The sequences in the film include the selection, presentation, marketing, pricing, advertising and selling of a vast array of consumer products including designer clothes and furs, jewelry, perfumes, shoes, electronic products, sportswear, china and porcelain and many other goods. The internal management and organizational aspects of a large corporation are shown, i.e., sales meetings, development of marketing and advertising strategies, training, personnel practices and sales techniques.'

Let me add: The Store is also about the architecture and design of massive department stores (rarer now in smaller cities) vs. those of other retailers; anxiety; identity; conspicuous consumption; ennui; desolation; labor; weird, prissy shoppers; changing mores (smoking allowed inside) and fashions (including hideous 1980s outfits, then "the cutting edge" of fashion); depressing store lighting and flooring (the lap of luxury?); the battle for hearts, minds and moolah; and let's not forget The Zodiac® restaurant. 

With no overarching narration and no clear "heroes" to follow, The Store is all the more fascinating to behold.

Today's Rune: The Mystery Rune.  


the walking man said...

Eastland is going into receivership and with it there comes the end of Macys near D.

Oh the god's or retail! Pimps for them looking for market share,

Charles Gramlich said...

Don't know that I've ever been in a really fancy store. Maybe just passing through.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

This sounds fascinating! Much as I shop only out of necessity, I find the whole concept of recreational retail to be fascinating, albeit completely foreign.

jodi said...

Erik-NM has the best makeup counter ever! Clothes and shoes are more than this Detroiter needs to pay that much for. Still, I can't resist looking!