Our windows were the brightest and fullest you could
ever imagine. Well, it was to be expected as Colin, a qualified window
dresser, was my new manager. I had bought a turntable (I have always believed
in movement in a window) and Christmas 1963 was shaping up to be our best
I had the idea that I could create an enormous shirt display - I wanted
to have sixty shirts turning in the centre of my larger window - and had
worked it all out with copious drawings….. it would need to be eight feet
tall with a base of over five feet! I measured everything up and bought
an enormous amount of timber. It would have to be built upstairs but still
Everything had progressed nicely and the evening in mid-November arrived.
At first, it all went smoothly, but when we reached the turn in the stairs….
Disaster! The thing got stuck and no amount of cajoling would persuade
it to go either forward or back! The jammed monstrosity completely filled
the stairwell so, somehow, we had to take it apart. We had started at
6.15 p.m. and it was well after midnight before we got it down.
The two lads helping us insisted that they'd had enough and it was time
for them to go home, so there were Colin and I, left alone to re-assemble
my 'masterpiece'. It took us until 4 a.m. and, on trying it, the thing
actually worked, but we still had to spend another five hours on the dressing
until the window was finally complete at 9 a.m. With my vulgar sense of
humour I had spent days making the window tickets. On the top left hand
of each was a Christmas display - little metallic spirals that swayed
in every draught and two little brightly-coloured glass balls, one on
Yes, I had to admit that the end result looked slightly 'phallic' and
many customers giggled at my 'faux pas'!
Actually, I was delighted that they were spending time looking in the
window and reading my tickets.
Those windows brought us our most successful Christmas ever and we were
finally able to pay off the last remaining outstanding bills from our Colindale
debacle. Soon after this Colin became a Director, fully merited by all his
hard work and loyalty. My biggest failing in my business career had to be
'stock control' - quite simply, I had none! Staff stole from me and I could
do nothing about it - it was my greatest problem, even though I was mainly
successful, so I asked my brother-in-law (another Colin) to come along and
He was a city banker/accountant and his first question was "What's your
stock turnaround?" I had no idea what he was talking about! He explained
to me that I had two stock turns per year and, in simple terms, I had twice
the stock needed for my turnover - all my profits were going in stock…..
I took Colin's advice and brought my stock levels down.
The turnover went down slightly but profit levels increased - I had learned
an important business lesson! Colin went on to become MD of a major bank.
I will always remember his comment when he first saw my stock room: "What's
this - a bloody wholesale warehouse?"