Monday, 24 October 2011
Randall Couch: http://www.poetrysociety.org.uk/content/competitions/popescu/popcouch/
He recently wrote, on another site, of the internal 'regeneration' of the the charming old interior of Budd Shirtmakers in the Princes Arcade off Piccadilly and mentioned the Harry Potter factor. Budd were recently bought from the Webster family by the corporate group which owns (and, in fairness, saved), the tailor Huntsman in Savile Row.
As it used to be, the shop was a bit of jumble of fine things; the paintwork was old and the fixtures and fittings were of the dark wood that one would really expect from shirtmakers beloved by everyone from Terry-Thomas through to John Hurt; Edward Fox, and Hugh Bonneville as well as professionals, politicians and tycoons; in fact everyone with knowledge of this gem of a shop, managed by the venerable Mr Rowley, with veteran cutter Mr Butcher.
I rather regret the introduction of light wood fittings and order to the place, and the removal of anything (such as the dragon chair, in the picture), which might be reckoned, by the new owners, to intimidate the sort of people who, they miss to notice, will never become Budd customers anyway. They have indulged in an exercise to broaden the customer base: to attract all the monied celebrities and barrowboy traders who might have been put off by the old shop. But it's a short-sighted exercise because it entails the loss of the kind of magick that inspired the Harry Potter stories. Randall Couch properly observes that these stories, which hark back to the mysterious nature of the existence of all things, are immensely popular with the young and I am quite sure that the senior tutors at Hogwarts are all Budd customers.
So why do business purchasers have to tinker with a winning formula? Is it just because they have been on some dumb management course, learned a bit of jargon and have to set about applying the newly learned marketing techniques; quite missing the point that what they are actually doing is rubbing out a real attraction to new customers and things of affectionate remembrance for older customers? I can remember old Mr Webster sitting in that chair in the 1980s and I'm going to ask them to put it back.
Posted by NJS at 09:58