Although haberdashery is not a commonly used term, the meaning of this term may vary from place to place. In the UK, haberdashery refers to someone who sells sewing items like thread, ribbons, buttons and so on. In some cases, an English haberdashery means a place
where draperies for windows are sold. However, in the US, this term is used to refer a place where all the men’s accessories like gloves, hats, watches, and ties are sold, or a men’s clothing store. Since, ‘Haberdashery’ is not commonly used in day to day conversations, most people in the US do not know what it means.
Earlier, a haberdashery was not limited to selling only items like thread and buttons. It also used to sell a number of household items, musical instruments, weaponry, and so. It was more of a dry goods seller. However, with time, there was a radical change in the items it traded. Similarly, in the UK, during the 16th Century, the haberdashery referred to someone who sold various things like bird-cages, shoehorns, mousetraps, Jews’ Harps, drinking materials, and so on.
By the above definition, there may be confusion whether haberdashery is a place or a human seller. So, let us first understand exactly what is Haberdashery. Haberdashery may be a person who works in such a store, or own a store that sells haberdashery items, or simply is a manufacturer of goods that are sold in such stores.
You will find a number of stores that define themselves as a haberdashery store or producers of haberdashery supplies. However, there are very few authentic haberdashery stores present in today’s world, and the history of such stores dates back to 16th or 17th century. The term ‘Haberdashery’ is quite an unusual word, and is fun to pronounce. However, the origin of this word is yet unclear. Some experts believe, it comes from a French word, hapertas, which essentially means ‘pretty wares’ or simply ‘wares’. However, hapertas was referred to goods that were manufactured and sold many years ago, and such goods are not sold these days. Hence, the origin of haberdashery remains unknown.