Mary Queen of Shops Arrives on American TV
By Bernice Hurst, Contributing Editor, RetailWire
Queen of Shops, a British television import, reached American airwaves in mid-October.
The reality show features fashion guru Mary Portas as she attempts to pull
back boutiques from the brink of insolvency.
reviews back when it first appeared on British television eighteen months ago
were mixed. No such doubts assailed The New York Times as
the series launched on American television. Unlike chef Gordon Ramsay, Ms.
Portas has not attempted to replicate her visitations on U.S. soil. Viewers
will see the original, unadulterated, U.K. version, warts and all.
the retailers on Ms. Portas’ resumé are Harrods, Top Shop and Harvey Nichols.
Her entry in Wikipedia describes her huge success in each store, specifically
in the fashion and beauty departments. Apparently she also “regularly travels
around the world advising on retail strategy and frequently lectures on the
theme of brands and retail.” Ms. Portas’ website (www.maryqueenofshops.com)
claims “Mary is one of the U.K.’s foremost authorities on retail and brand
communication and is credited with turning Harvey Nichols into the modern fashion
powerhouse that it is.”
the show, Ms. Portas first visits the featured boutique while the owners are
away. Once they return, she delivers an often-scalding verdict on why the owners
and staff’s choices and even their attitudes are ruining their business. She
then guides them through a revamp.
for The New York Times, Ginia
Bellafante sneers at both Mary Portas and her victim. She spews vitriol at
the celebrity’s attitude, appearance (“a razor-thin mouth that never seems
to shut and a severely angular haircut that says, ‘I look fabulous, and you
look like a big, bulbous turnip.'”) and self-proclaimed expertise (“What I
don’t know about shops isn’t worth knowing.”).
Viner, reviewing the show in The Independent back
in June 2008, was more favorably impressed with Ms Portas’ influence on small-store
owner, Amanda Collins. By the end of that episode, the store’s name and inventory
were changed along with the proprietor’s attitude towards potential customers.
Jane Murphy, on orange.co.uk, said the same episode initially made her hate
the owner, an opinion she later revised when she realized the woman was simply
nervous in front of the camera (and Ms. Portas perhaps?). Despite the accompanying
cynicism, Mary Portas did, apparently, initiate improvements.
another episode, Ms. Portas attempted to make charity stores more commercially
aware but was described by one reviewer as “toe-curling” in spite of the increased
profit made by the branch on which the episode focused. Expertise and celebrity
in this case did have a positive impact even if not every customer approves
of the changes.
show began running in mid-October on BBC America,
Wednesday nights at 9, Eastern and Pacific times; 8, Central time.
Questions: Does a consultant offering store makeover advice make for good
entertainment in the U.S.? How much advice does the typical store owner or
chain, for that matter, need when it comes to store layout and design?
commentary] Bearing in mind the time lag, and the recession, it would be
interesting to know if any updates have been tagged onto the end of each
episode. Or perhaps we will all need to wait until the next series has been
commissioned and Ms. Portas has had time to write her next book.
- Mary Queen of Shops – Why Can’t the English
Teach Their Retailers How to Be Chic? – The New
- Last Night’s TV: Mary, Queen of Shops,
BBC2: A Taste of My Life, BBC2: The Victorian Sex Explorer, Channel 4
– The Independent
- Why Mary Queen of Charity Shops is a lost
Mary Portas’s misguided plans to overhaul
Save the Children didn’t seem particularly charitable – The
- Mary Queens of Shops – orange.co.uk