Fifteen years ago when we lived year round in Greece, if you needed thread, pillows, tableware, fabric…just about anything really…you went to Harrods to see if they had it in stock. If it was on the island at all, Harrods was often your best bet. The British community had affectionately dubbed it after the famous Knightsbridge store in part because it was the was the general largest store on the island and had seemingly be around for ever. And in part, I think, because it highlighted just how limited our shopping options were at that time.
Inside the store was a fascinating mix of old style retail design with funky old Greek products and modern items from all over the world. The main sales counter also doubled as the haberdashery section with bolts of cloth on spools lining the wall behind the cashier. The main floor was covered in motley displays of everything: men’s, women’s and children’s clothing, lingerie, bathing suits, pressure cookers and reels of floral plastic sheeting that Greeks love to use to cover dining tables. Above, a traditional narrow mezzanine floor stored boxes and dusty old promotional posters for 1970s L’Oreal products and Sloggi underwear. It was a time warp, and there was nothing else like it.
Twenty years before I remember several similar department stores in Athens. Some still had wire or cash carrier tubes to carry cash and receipts and the same old-fashioned mezzanine floors. They are all gone now as far as I now, but Harrods lived on, at least until about five years ago when I returned one summer to find it closed. One summer soon I expect to return again to find it gutted, characterless and selling $400 designer jeans. Its the way the world turns I suppose, but I would love to get another peek inside at its faded glory and its glimpse of another time.