During the early 20th Century, Buenos Aires was booming and extremely wealthy, so much so that in 1914 Harrods of London decided to open their only foreign store right in the heart of the city. A super grand Belle Époque building on Calle San Martin standing proud on a corner position, crowned by an eight-storey cupola, featuring palatial marble steps and cedar flooring throughout its 47,000 square metres, enormous wrought-iron elevators with a capacity for 20 at a time, valet services, and oh, an orchestra.
How very British.
Harrods was ‘the’ place to be seen in Buenos Aires and renowned for its exclusive fashion lines, expensive jewellery and perfumes and, of course, its super exclusive tea salon. It was at the time, the only place in Argentina to buy European luxury goods.
Unfortunately, Harrods BA lost its mojo after a battle over naming rights when Mohammed El Fayed bought the London mothership, after which it changed hands many times, and finally in the late 90’s, closed its doors. Since then there are have been many rumours swirling – apparently even today – around it being restored to its former glory and re-opening, but given the current financial climate, I can’t see that happening anytime soon.
However, from what I’ve read recently, it could actually even reopen under the Harrods name, the rights still actually held for Argentina alone. Let’s hope to see this grand old dame returned to retail splendour sometime soon.