This seems to be turning into 'Shops I have loved' not building blocks. But how could I leave out The John Lewis Partnership. My favourite department store. Not only do I love the shop, but also the innovative business model. It's run on the basis of a partnership, where every employee is both a partner in the business and a shareholder in the business. They have the right to vote on important issues and receive a share of the profits each year. The founder John Lewis himself was not a great employer, but his son John Spedan Lewis was the social reformer. You can read more about them over here.
John Lewis is a building block for Cauliflower for a number of reasons. Mainly, the inspiration that things can be done differently, there are better ways to run a business. Having worked there temporarily for one summer, I know its not just a PR exercise. Which gives us faith to keep pushing and keep going.
The second is more difficult to put into words. Here goes...... its the feeling that even a large commercial department store can be a comfortable and accessible place.
Third reason, they stock their own brand, which is well designed, affordable and great quality.
And finally the fourth reason is service. The difference that staff not being on a personal commission make to their attitude to sales. It breeds team work in the sales staff. They all benefit from the sales and from the returning customer. Take for example this little tale. When my step daughter was small we went in for some summer sandals. I am old fashioned and believe that my children should wear decent supportive footwear. The assistant measured her feet, then tried on every pair of shoes in her size, none fitted. She was mid growth spurt and had long narrow feet. Eventually after being very patient the sales assistant said - There is nothing here that is going to work for your daughter, can you bring her back in a few weeks time when her feet have grown a bit more. - How many sales people would block a sale? We have all left shops with something that was the latest gadget we did not want, either too big, too small or just looked really bad on us, due to pushy sales people. Its a good lesson to learn. We went back in a few weeks time, Lisa's feet had changed and fitted the sandals well. We bought a couple of pairs. Lesson learned - find out what people are looking for and if we don't have it, then either pass them on to a local retailer that does, or if possible order or design and make that new item for them.
Usually I start these blog posts with an idea of where I am going and a formal structure. Strangely enough they never end up there, once I start writing new ideas pour out and change the direction. In this case the direction has has veered off again in a good way. If Cauliflower can emulate the best influences of John Lewis, we will be happy business owners.
Images from John Lewis.