Looking back over 37 years in retail

Photo:A Partner in the Perfumery Dept. of Tyrrell and Green, another of the Partnership's department stores, 1950

A Partner in the Perfumery Dept. of Tyrrell and Green, another of the Partnership's department stores, 1950

John Lewis Partnership Archives - Ref. 359eiii

By Joyce M. Smith

The following was sent in to us by retired Partner Joyce Smith. Now ninety-two years old, Joyce shared these memories of her long career in the Partnership in a letter, which she wrote to us after reading about the Memory Stores in the March 2015 issue of Connections magazine:

I picked up on the paragraph about the chocolate factory and sweet store. My memory went back to 1946, when I was working at Jones Bros Holloway, in the Perfumery Dept. I could not understand how it was that we were selling jars of sweets in the Perfumery Dept.? Now I can understand! Nobody explained it at the time.

I was 24 years old, had served almost 4 years doing farm work in the Women's Land Army in Hertfordshire. I was looking for a job with only a limited experience of office work pre-WLA, and Jones Bros only wanted sales staff, so what could I do but try to do my best! However, the Manageress of Perfumery was inclined to treat me like a child, shouting at me in front of customers. At 24 years old I was not happy, so had written out my notice to quit! However, the Assistant Manageress of the department at that time - I think she was called ADM - advised me to wait, because she believed that the DM was about to leave. So I tore up my notice to quit and went on to serve 37 years! 7 on the selling side and 30 in buying.

The Partnership has been so kind to me - it is a wonderful organization. Because of my inexperience in selling I was sent to 2 famous perfumery training schools for a week each (paid), in Bond Street: Elizabeth Arden and Innoxa. The latter I don't believe is still in existence, but Elizabeth Arden definitely still is! At the school, I was allowed to use all their expensive jars of cream, etc. - huge jars and so expensive, for even tiny ones, and at the end of the week treated to a theatre show!

Later on in my career I was sent on a Good Work Party to Paris, Geneva and Zurich, and was one of the few lucky ones chosen to go to the Partnership College at Cookham, in Berkshire, in 1948, the last year before it closed. As I said, the John Lewis Partnership is a wonderful, unique organization and I am so pleased to see how it has grown and is still growing. 

 

This page was added by Owen Munday on 12/05/2015.

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