How Rackhams exhibits got shoppers running through the doors in 16 photos

When was the last time you saw something in a store that made you go “wow”? Not an individual item, but an entire screen?

Chances are it was in a high-end store somewhere in central London or another European capital. It’s rare to see something truly magnificent in stores these days that prioritizes their square footage for products over art.

Former employees at Rackhams held a reunion this week, showcasing their work from the 60s and 70s in a photo exhibition in the city center. Armed with eye-catching budgets, lots of talent and a lot of elbow grease, they made window displays and store design an art form.

READ MORE: Decades of Birmingham Rackham’s memories will be unveiled in a new city photo exhibition

The Rackhams we know today are currently House Of Fraser on Corporation Street and opened in phases through the 60s. Under the Harrod’s group of House Of Fraser department stores, the exhibition team flourished.

It was not just window dressing. The staff even staged a cabaret show to model the latest and greatest fashion of the 1970s. Take a look at the gallery below to see what they’ve done – you might recognize their work!



Welcome to Birmingham, Scandinavia!

At their reunion, the staff told about making intricate props by hand to form the backdrop for their magnificent exhibits. Some took so long that when they finished a set of windows for one campaign, it was time to tear the first window down to the next feature!

Their huge budgets for visual design did not extend to their pay, they told us, too. Some got pay cuts for joining the Rackhams team from elsewhere – their pride and reputation made all the difference.

It was physically demanding work. In addition to carrying all sorts of materials and products, a former team member said they walked over 10 miles of the store every day for their craft – they must all have had steel thighs!

But it was all worth it for them – and for the many shoppers who would have been dazzled at the time, even if they could not afford to buy any of it. See the gallery above to take a look at the craftsmanship of Rackhams exhibition teams over the years.

What’s the best thing you’ve ever seen at Rackham’s back then? Comment below and join us in our Facebook nostalgia group.

See more history and nostalgia here!

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