For the British, our level of service is the Stone Age. I could not understand what exactly we are doing wrong and what it takes to become truly recognized. And I decided to find out how it is done at Harrods or Selfridges by getting a job there.

Add yellow

Harrods is traditionally considered popular with Russian and Asian clients, and it still sells natural furs, despite the protests of the “greens”. Selfridges, which won the Best Department Store in the World in the Global Department Store Summit in Paris last year, has always been considered the most stylish and trendy despite its two-century history. What are their bright yellow plastic bags! Just add yellow – “Just add yellow.” “Shopping as an art” is also from there: the words belong to the owner of Selfridges, Harry Selfridge, a luxury retail icon who died in complete poverty. Without thinking twice, I sent my résumé to both companies as a wine sales consultant at the Wine Shop. The answer came very quickly, I was invited for an interview at Selfridges. Surprisingly, it was the head of the entire Food Department, not the manager of the wine department, who saw him off. She looks like a sweet girl of 35-37 years old, but I quickly determined that such a “galloping horse would stop.” Twenty minutes later, Lisa Gartell said that over the past five years, these are the best interviews and portfolios from potential employees of the wine department.

In two days I was already at work. I have never worked in uniform and have never stood on my feet eight hours a day. Therefore, at first, the work seemed like a real hell to me. I even asked Lisa how she manages to supervise the entire department “in the fields” in high-heeled shoes. To which she received the answer that the first three months she was also hard, but then she stopped feeling pain, and everything fell into place. After that, I realized where she got such a sales grip and hardening.

“I will have lunch after the holidays”

Another example of Selfridges’ management style is wine buyer Dawn Davies. Personality, without exaggeration, historical. She campaigned for five years against the Government’s National Measurement Office, and was allowed to serve small portions of wine at Selfridges’ wine bar, The Wonder Room, which had previously been prohibited. Don is one of three talented female sommeliers (the other two are Nobuko Okamura and Helena Hell who have made their careers in London).

You can say I went through my baptism of fire with Don when I broke a bottle of Thunder Toffee flavored vodka. This happened at the time of the maximum workload of the department. It was necessary to quickly block access to visitors and remove traces of the drink. By the way, it turned out that it is best to do this with sheets from cardboard boxes: they absorb liquid much faster than any rags or napkins. Don did the whole operation in 30 seconds, having time to both throw the sheets from the boxes and call the service department. But the position of the buyer is not ordinary, and many will not stoop to cleaning, their job is to sit in offices and communicate in an arrogant tone with suppliers. Moreover, it is the buyer who is responsible for the goods. The product may not be sold, or, conversely, the stock will end earlier than planned, and there is nowhere else to take it. Therefore, on holidays or during peak sales, for example, the Selfridges buyer works on a par with regular sellers. He communicates with customers, brings huge carts with goods from the wine cellar, actually working as a loader in order to fill the shelves as soon as possible, dines for 10 minutes, comes early in the morning to work and leaves late in the evening. One day I noticed that Don had not been to dinner all day, to which she, without batting an eye, said: “I will have lunch after the holidays.” Although, of course, suppliers do a lot for their favorite customers, such as Selfridges. Limited editions are produced for them personally. The quota system among the best wine producers has not yet been canceled, and it still exists. Selfridges get the cream! Imagine what happiness it is to buy and immediately drink wine! For example, the super-Tuscan San Leonardo from 2005 or the luxurious Chianti Classico from Castello di Ama from 2006. It is clear that basic alcoholic drinks produced in huge quantities will never be found in Selfridges, but unique things, such as the liqueur that was made for the king two centuries ago, can be very much found on the shelves. And the prices don’t bite. You can find New World wines for £ 8, as well as deluxe examples such as the £ 9,000 Methuselah Cristal 6 liter from 2002, a trendy suitcase with three bottles of Ace of Spades, 1983 Château Margaux, a collection of rare portos, etc. NS.