Offering the opportunity to buy a luxury products at a considerable saving on the domestic prices was a great idea of Brendan O'Regan, originator of the first airport store in 1947 at Shannon in the Republic of Ireland. He launched mail order liquor business in 1954 !
O'Regan produced a catalogue for US & Canadian people who were not travelling through Shannon with range displayed in the airport at prices undercutting the North American downtown market.
Shannon also offered the opportunity to buy a car tax and duty free, use it for a European holiday and the have it shipped back home at a considerable saving on the domestic price.
Brussels Zaventem was another European airport to recognise the advantages of dutyfree shopping. This was largely the work of Aldo Vastapane, a trade's pioneering entrepreneur. Vastapane heard about Shannon shops from a friend and when he travelled to Ireland to investigate, he instantly recognised the appeal of the concept to passengers.
His company, called Tax Free Sky Shop and now International Duty Free, established a dutyfree liquor tobacco store in 1958. A new business model was invented for fees paid by Sky Shop with a split 50:50 between the carrier Sabena and airport authority.
Key message is this. Dutyfree industry offers a deep insight into the workings of disruptive innovation were operated in the face of sustained opposition : customs, local traders, suppliers and often the airport authorities themselves.