chapter  3
37 Pages

The rise of the retail tastemaker: eighteenth-century furniture and furnishing retailing and distribution

The French had established themselves as the tastemakers and leaders of the luxury goods market since the seventeenth century. By the eighteenth century furniture distribution had developed an infrastructure that was fully able to meet the demands of its customers. In addition, the continuing development of support services such as import-export merchants, transport facilities, finance, advertising and promotion meant that retailing and distribution took on an increasingly important role in the economic life of the country. The furniture retailer had a dual relationship with his customers. Another area of eighteenth-century London that witnessed an influx of retail furnishing businesses was Mayfair. In some instances, goods would be sold from a retail outlet that was combined with the shopkeeper's own residential property. Even in the case of the top-quality London firm of John Linnell, the main showroom was in the front ground floor of their house in Berkeley Square, whilst workshops and stores were at the rear and on other floors.