n 1908 Agnes Towler, a shop girl at Gamages store, is sacked after a flamboyant American customer insists she empty her entire stock of gloves on her counter but later receives an expensive pair of gloves from the man. He is Harry Selfridge, a former shop worker who has moved from Chicago to London with his mother Lois, wife Rose and their children. His aim is to open his own store in Oxford Street. When his original partner backs out journalist Frank Edwards introduces Harry to influential suffragette Lady Mae Loxton, through whom he obtains the required financial backing. In March 1909 he opens his unprecedently sumptuous new department store. He employs Agnes, making her senior accessories assistant, which annoys fellow shop girls Doris and Kitty, though Victor, a waiter at the store's restaurant, takes a shine to her. Also on the staff are chief accountant Mr Crabb, stoic chief of staff Mr Grove, head window dresser Henri Leclair, the formidable Miss Mardle, head of accessories and Miss Bunting, her nervous counter part in fashion. Frank also introduces Harry to Gaiety girl Ellen Love, who, as the opening is launched, is chosen to personify the Spirit of Selfridges.

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