Dare to be the same

When I was a teenager, my town was twinned with a Paris suburb. They got to visit Jarrow and South Shields, and we got the Champs Elysées and Versailles. (They also got Lindisfarne, Durham Cathedral and the Whitley Bay leisure pool, so it wasn’t all one way.)

When we were allowed to wander around the shops in Paris, we Brits would always wonder why the French advertised things that were already sold. And the French though it was disgusting that the British wanted to draw attention to things which were shop soiled.

Just in case you didn’t already know this, French for SALE! is SOLDES! And in French, SALE! means DIRTY! Endless fun for teenagers.

During my 14 years working for Lush, they never had a sale. Like Louis Vuitton, Lush stood firm. Their Christmas stock would always sell out; they never needed a January sale. Then they realised that sitting there with empty shops on Christmas Eve while their neighbours’ tills were ringing like church bells wasn’t such a good idea. Better to have stock in right to the last shopping second, then sell off the leftovers.

So during the noughties Lush ran very successful buy one get one free offers from Boxing Day onwards to shift the Christmas specials from the shelves. (This was in the UK, where the founders could observe it closely. The rest of the world did what it liked.) Like John Lewis and its clearance bargains, they were giving customers money off, but without stepping into the retail gutter.

And finally, at the end of 2012, Lush had a sale.

Put SALE! in the window and everyone knows what to expect. A retail bunfight, a scrap for bargains, discounts, offers, savings.

Sometimes all you need is the courage to do exactly the same as everyone else. Individuality can be overrated when it comes to speaking the truth.