Palaces of Consumption
Marshall Field in Chicago and other retailers built palatial stores. Offering wide selections of goods and services at set prices, they encouraged consumers to spend the day enjoying the pleasures of shopping. These stores employed growing numbers of single women, who also became consumers.
Managers reorganized department stores, placing high-profit impulse items like cosmetics on the first floor, to tempt women on their way to other items. Until the early 1900s, few American women used cosmetics daily. Consumption increased as women had more disposable income, the freedom to spend it, and examples of Hollywood actresses to follow. In the 1800s, most cosmetics and fragrances came from France, but around 1900 American department stores began selling the highly profitable nationally branded American cosmetics.
Clothing and furnishings for men, who were presumed too timid to venture farther into the department store, were usually located on the first floor.