London's Harrods & Mohamed Al Fayed
A highlight on one of my trips to London, I met Mohamed Al Fayed when he owned Harrod's a few years back. One had to enter the side of the building and go up the escalators to the 5th floor to enter an unmarked door. Once in, the receptionist would escort you to a conference room. My room had soft lighting and an old parquet floor that you would expect to see in a townhouse on the upper east side in New York. After waiting patiently for 20 minutes he walked in with his son. Sitting in front of me were plans for a 100,000 square foot newly developed department store space in Las Vegas that I wanted to share with him. The first words that came out of his mouth were; "I am not buying anything!" ...and then we both laughed. The meeting went well and I learnt he was planning on building a Harrods at the base of Harrah's Hotel in Las Vegas. He then walked me to the next room to show me a model that was enclosed in a glass case. It was pretty spectacular. After the meeting and on the way out he was very gracious and handed me a new Harrods vinyl bag replacing my old one and then proceeded on giving me two table top books. One was about Harrods and the other about The Hotel Ritz in Paris, while saying, "You know I own this hotel too!" He was such a great pitchman. I knew when I was in his presence I was with one of the greatest merchants of the the world. His parting words were; "Joseph, you do plan to come back tomorrow and shop with your wife, won't you?" I smiled graciously shaking his hand and my head, saying: "Of course, Mohamed we plan too."