Monday 3 May 2021

Blind Spot


In 1864, John Lewis opened a department store on Oxford Street, he was just 28 years old. The store was founded on principles of  "value, service, assortment and honesty"- his two sons later joined him in the highly successful business. To the young John Spedan Lewis it seemed wrong that his father, his brother, and himself, should draw £26.000 a year from the business and “to ALL the other people who were likewise giving to it the whole of their working lives, it was only yielding another £16.000 a year.” He thought it so unfair and so inefficient, that he devised his new system. He had to fight his father’s opposition to the “new fangled” notion, but when his father gave him Peter Jones Store to manage, he made it pay and then introduced the scheme which made his name famous.

The employees – all Partners in the business – have a say in the running of the business and a share in profit, knowledge and power. This democratic ethos is still at the heart of the Partnership, and means every customer interaction takes place with an owner of the business. I think the Partnership’s commitment to John Spedan Lewis’ original model is something it can be proud of.

I've always had a fondness for good old fashioned department stores[ my gran was in service to Lord and Lady Gamage when their store was in its heydey] But John Lewis has always been my favourite. In my student years a trip to London had to include a meander round the haberdashery department. "Never knowingly undersold" meant that they were best value for branded goods, with excellent aftersales service. Not everything purchased new for our home, but some special items, have necessitated a trip up to town [in the days before online shopping] The girls' red tubular metal bunkbeds - which lasted us ten years and were as good as new when we sold them, the Sebo vacuum cleaner, well over 20 years old, and efficient as ever, my Kenwood Chef Christmas 1995] etc etc.

Since acquiring Cornerstones, I have saved up any JL vouchers and used them to buy curtains. They are well made, and reliable quality. So we have gorgeous blue blackout ones in the bedroom, and a couple of years ago, I was able to get "Strawberry Thief" ones for the lounge. My latest purchase has been to use a birthday voucher - plus a leaving gift from the 'Churches Together' friends in Dorset to buy a new blind for the kitchen.

I've always hated the old vertical blinds in the kitchen here - the plastic bits were breaking, it was hard to clean the sill and the window behind. Now I have a smart Kingfisher Blue roller blind. It was Bob's suggestion that this windowsill should be the home for my orchid collection. A south facing window, and in a place where they can be seen and appreciated.

I am so thrilled with the cheerful, fresh look, and grateful to friends whose generosity made it possible.No way is it a 'nightmare' And I am sorry that some people feel that my choice of furnishings from a company with high standards, of service and honesty, implies I have inferior taste. 


  1. Sadly our Sheffield store has closed so we went to John Lewis in Nottingham last week. Equally sad, we found it devoid of shoppers but the staff were as ever cheerful and helpful.
    Goods in John Lewis are not cheap and that's because they don't sell rubbish, only quality stuff. Consequently it's what so many people aspire to. The elitist tosser that's running our country has shown his true colours (again) in that one statement. He has no empathy and total disdain for the ordinary people that he and his cronies have the privilege to govern.

  2. I am hoping that the Norwich store is maintained - there isn't another in the county!

  3. Since I've no clue what the "nightmare" is and who might have said you've inferior taste, I'll simply say that the orchids look quite happy on that windowsill! :D

    1. It was the Prime Minister- who has just spent around £200,000 redecorating 10 Downing Street, because he and his fiancée allegedly did not like the "John Lewis Nightmare" decor. This is equivalent to the President being Very Rude about a previous incumbent's choice of furnishings.

  4. I have to say I am with you on John Lewis, we needed to replace some furniture and a fridge freezer last year. We ordered on-line with John Lewis, yes they are more expensive, but it is quality with the best customer service. Helen S.

  5. I love John Lewis and cant imagine how one would need a 'Total refurbishment'of a flat that already had good quality furnishings.
    Did you ask for donors to pay for your blind????

  6. I've always been impressed by the John Lewis stores when I've been in the UK and I always thought of it as a slightly upmarket store - not luxury level but certainly not "cheap". I think your PM and his fiancé are showing their own snobbishness - and not really sure (given their behaviour and yes, appearance) they should be considered arbitrators of "good taste"!

  7. Ah, John Lewis is great! My sister in law was a structural engineer for their Birmingham store which has sadly closer and we went to visit it on completion. It is a great store and I cannot believe the audacity of the PM to be so condescending on no. 10 decor.

  8. I was a partner in the Nottingham branch (Jessops) for about 6 years and was always proud of the fact that we were all co owners so therefore we had a vested interest in the shop doing as well as possible. This meant that we always made sure everything was neat and tidy, clean and we were well informed about our stock and eager to serve customers. How disappointed I was when last summer I visited the shop for the first time in a number of years and found a dirty, understocked, untidy store with so few staff it was almost impossible to find anyone to help, it felt more like a self service supermarket than the upmarket department store that i used to work in. I hope that you never experience anything like that in the store that use. Jane

  9. Always go to John Lewis (Oxford St) and Peter Jones (Sloane Sq) when I come over the Pond. My favorite department store. My DD and DiL love their children's clothing, so I always bring back things for the grandchildren. Love going through the haberdashery and kitchen depts, too. Funnily enough, as I write this, I am drinking tea out of a mug I purchased there a couple of years ago.


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