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Small is beautiful

The man who is aware of himself is henceforward independent; and he is never bored, and life is only too short, and he is steeped through and through with a profound yet temperate happiness.

It’s cold, chucking it down outside and the neighbour’s tree surgeons have been making a racket all day as they remove all the diseased fir trees from his garden. I have a million things to do if the January issue of BMJ is to ever see the light of day and yet I have just spent the most glorious half hour watching Christmas adverts on You Tube.

Not just any Christmas adverts, of course. I may be one of the legions of people who can’t watch a John Lewis ad without welling up (it’s pathetic, I know), but the department store’s efforts have been knocked into the proverbial cocked hat this year. By whom? By a family-run independent hardware store in Wales who filmed their own advert on a budget of £100 and featuring the owners’ grandson and great-grandson.

If you haven’t watched it, I beg of you, go to You Tube and watch it now – you don’t even need to look it up, just click HERE. It is wonderful.

The advert features two-year old Arthur Lewis-Jones waking up and heading to work at the traditional high street hardware shop that’s been in his family for over a century. He dons his apron, he sweeps floors, stocks shelves, serves a series of customers, does some paperwork and gift-wraps purchases.

As the store closes he bends to pick up a Christmas tree — before the camera sees him morph into his dad Tom Lewis-Jones, 30, who carries the tree home as the slogan appears: ‘Be a kid this Christmas.’

This is the third advert that Lewis-Jones (Tom, not Arthur) has done for the store, all of them featuring Arthur, although this year is the first that he gets such a starring role.

I think the reason it struck such a chord with me (apart from the obvious one of me being a complete sucker for anything like this) was that it linked beautifully in with what retail futurist Howard Saunders was talking about at the NBG Conference Supplier Summit last month. Independent businesses, he said, can bring something to their customers that larger conglomerate businesses can’t – a way of dealing with their customers that makes those customers feel special, feel something for that business and the people who work there.

Starbucks, he said, aren’t scared of Costa Coffee, nor Cadburys of Nestle. Rather, it’s the independent barista and the artisan chocolate maker who are giving their customers service and an experience they can’t get elsewhere. “These are the businesses that the big guys are scared of”. In the same way Beefeater probably isn’t that bothered about Gordons, but is warily eyeing up the artisan gin-distilleries that you can find on hidden away industrial units if you know where to look.

I’m middle-class, middle-aged and female, so of course I love John Lewis but there’s a part of my now that wishes I lived in Wales. And you don’t often hear that from a Tunbridge Wells lass.

Watch the advert. Watch it now. Then watch the 2017 and 2018 versions and watch this year’s again. I guarantee it will make your heart soar and the world will seem a nicer place.

 

About Fiona Russell-Horne

Fiona Russell-Horne
Editor-in-Chief across the BMJ portfolio.

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