The Boucicauts were ahead of their time, and influenced it. They were behind a number of commercial innovations that still set the standard today.
- First to offer fixed prices;
- First to cut margins to sell larger volumes and rotations of new products.
- The first to install electricity and elevators, an extension of a young engineer Gustave Eiffel…
- First to advertise their stores and their spectacular sales in the press.
- The first to guarantee product returns and deliver to customers in Paris and the provinces.
- The first to send out increasingly sophisticated catalogs, spreading the elegance of the Parisienne (150 employees in the “samples” department).
- Marguerite distributes diaries to customers, with sales appointments already written down for them.
- They invented the month of white and theatrical events in store.
- They offer games to children, to make them come back with their mothers…
Aristide and Marguerite are visionaries, they have the energy to build, and respect for their background encourages them to be philanthropic and generous.
- All employees are entitled to a weekly day off, medical assistance – unprecedented…
- They set the working day at a maximum of 12 hours (instead of 16!) and offer annual leave.
When Aristide died in 1877, Marguerite, the powerful matron, refused to sell and took over the running of the establishment, a rare occurrence in this very patriarchal 19th century. At the time, sales stood at 67 million, with 1,788 employees serving 18,000 customers a day.
For 10 years, she developed the store and increased the number of departments, created the first catalog dedicated to Étrennes and Christmas toys, and invested in a pension fund for all employees.
A philanthropist at the time of her death, she divided her fortune between the creation of hospitals, maternity wards, donations to medical research (a gift of 100,000 gold francs to the Pasteur Institute) and cultural activities. With no successors, she bequeathed her store and sixteen million gold francs to her employees, not forgetting the night watchmen, in sums ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 francs according to seniority.