After coming to Paris in 1852 to seek his fortune, the iron dealer Xavier Ruel from Lyon recruited a number of sales people to sell a stock of hosiery. He was quick to identify the best place for making sales, the area around the Hôtel de Ville, and so he opened a boutique on the Rue de Rivoli. Lady Luck smiled upon him in 1855, when horses that belonged to the Empress Eugénie were coupled right on his doorstep – this also brought their accompanying masters and mistresses to his premises. His act of courage brought him a reward, and thanks to this he was able to expand his store up to the open area by Aristide Boucau and his ‘Bon Marché.’ The trend for large department stores was taking over throughout the Capital of the Second Empire, and Xavier Ruel distinguished himself from his competitors with his interest in social issues. During the era of the Communards, he distributed bread to those in need, and his employees benefitted from support and retirement funds – they also had their medical needs attended to by a dispensary. This tradition became his legacy, and during the harsh winter of 1954, the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville supported the work of l’Abbé Pierre to help the poor. In 1923, the success of their household appliances department inspired the Bazar to concentrate on this market area – the modern store specialises in fitting out and comfort in the home. It also became a popular hardware and tools store, where demand from builders and other enthusiasts led to the opening of large specialised shopping floors in the 1990s. As a sign of its affection amongst Parisians, the Bazar de l’Hôtel de Ville is now more commonly known by its acronym, BHV.
Image source : http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bazar_de_l’H%C3%B4tel_de_Ville