Aaaaah … Saturdays. I love Saturdays. Now I’m working in an office again, Saturdays are never particularly exciting but they are my day to do with as I wish. I normally catch up on housework (way exciting,) I might go to the gym (or I might not,) I invariably go back to my favourite café to catch up on my scone eating (sometimes with Skig, sometimes without,) and most of the time I just … chill. Aaaah.
Last Saturday, however, was a little different as I was asked if I would like a tour of the new John Lewis store at Westfield Stratford. Erm, yu-huh! So I set off early, copy of Heat! and Hummingbird Bakery cupcake in my handbag (long story,) and made my way up to Stratford.
I was met by the lovely PR lady, Emma, who guided me through the secret squirrel entrance, wherein we checked in our bags and waited for Tom, our guide for the day (also known as the man responsible for Branch Marketing.)
I actually had an itinerary as there was so much to see and do and first on the list was a personal shopping experience. Now, if you’re anything like me, especially when I have Skig with me (God love him,) shopping for clothes is an arduous experience. And that’s me being polite. It’s stressful, sweaty and quite frankly, not something I enjoy doing. At all. However, John Lewis actually provide a Personal Shopper free of charge! That’s FREE OF CHARGE! All you need to do is book an appointment.
I was taken into my own private changing area and Lily, my own personal shopper (check my bad self out,) had already brought a selection of dresses, shoes and accessories into the changing room. I don’t know how she did it, but I loved every dress she chose. Unfortunately, the ‘boob issue’ reared its ugly head again and not much fitted. Not John Lewis’ fault – have to blame my genes on that one. However, after a few more trips onto the shop floor, Lily did a great job. Had I had Skig with me, there was room for him to play. In fact, when you book, there is actually a spare room next door that you could ask to use purely for the children. Genius.
THE NEAT CHANGING ROOM BEFORE
THE CHANGING ROOM AFTER I’D FINISHED WITH IT
Unfortunately, my wages don’t extend to a new John Lewis outfit (sniff, sniff) but it was fun trying all the clothes on regardless. If you want to book your own Personal Shopping appointment, details are here.
Next on the agenda was a make-up lesson over at the Bobbi Brown counter. I have to say that I always visit this counter whenever I go to John Lewis. Great products, knowledgeable and friendly staff and I get to the chance to be pampered for half an hour – what’s not to love!
I HEART BOBBI BROWN
During this session, I learnt how to put liquid eyeliner on (normally end up with one crooked, dodgy eye,) learnt what condition my skin was in, got gently ribbed about not using specific products on my face (apparently shower gel isn’t that good for you …) and tried out an amazing bright orange lipstick which I adored (Bobbi B – if you’re listening, holla!)
And then it was onto my favourite bit – lunchtime! I’ve never eaten in a John Lewis restaurant – I know! – so I’m glad I popped my JL cherry at this store as it was fab! I was immediately greeted by this gorgeous cupcake tower and was quite happy to stand and stare at that, but was instead shown to the Chef’s Station. Here you can order freshly made pizzas, salads, rotisserie chicken and omelettes – and watch them being prepared right in front of you. We sat down to chat but our pizzas didn’t take that long to arrive at our table and at less than £5 for this ….
I was super impressed – what great value.
At lunch we discussed the John Lewis ‘ethos.’ Wasn’t really sure what that was but I’m now enlightened. I didn’t know that much about JL so found it fascinating that every member of staff is a shareholder – I think that explains why you get such good customer service in John Lewis stores. Also, at this particular branch in Stratford, an initiative was employed wherein local, long term unemployed people were hired to work at the branch.
The restaurant is also child friendly, as is the store, with aisles wide enough for buggies, family-friendly toilets where the whole clan can fit in and pretty much everything else you’d need.
I’d been promised a view of the Olympic site (John Lewis is situated directly opposite,) and after lunch, we made our way to the viewing room. Whoa. Very impressive.
My photos aren’t great, sorry, but you get the general gist of the scope of the site. The room that has been allocated for viewings is also used for community based projects. For example, John Lewis have sponsored a local school and have paid for them to have breakfast at school for the next five years. They were also lucky enough to be invited in to cut the ribbon on the first day the store opened and also came in and sang carols at Christmas. I think it’s great to have such strong links forged with the local community and that’s something that came across very strongly from John Lewis – as corny as it may sound, and believe me I’m a hard nut to crack – but they really do care.
After lunch we made our way to the toy department. I headed straight for the Lego section (Skig’s second passion in life after Powerpoint!) and was reminded of the John Lewis ‘Never Knowingly Undersold’ policy, their price match policy wherein they will match the price of a competitor or refund the difference.
During Half Term, the store is putting on a whole array of events to keep the children entertained (whilst we get to shop!)
Stadium Suite – Try out a number of exercise machines and fitness activities. Representatives from the
Newham sports teams will be on hand to demonstrate new and exciting products between 12pm-2pm.
13 – 19 February
There will be activities with Xbox, a car racing obstacle course, Lego friends games and arts and crafts.
14 – 15 February and 17-19 February
Visit the John Lewis Stadium Suite and participate in challenges and competitions whilst taking advantage
of a fantastic photo opportunity of the Olympic park. Listen to storytelling for children (aged 2-5).
Face painting and puzzles for young children (aged 2-5) throughout the day.
Take part in our sporting challenges, contribute to the 2012 collage of the Olympic mascots and help create an Olympic memento.
Choose a flag from a number of countries represented in this year’s Olympics and have your face painted between11am & 2pm.
Test your skills throughout the week against the X-Box experts who will be demonstrating the console and
the new Kinect sensor. Take part in the sporting games and see if you can beat the top score.
We rounded off my visit with a visit to the Valentines display. All together now …. The display wasn’t garish of obtrusive, or too mushy (I’m not that kinda gal,) but there were definitely a few items that I might start to drop casual hints about to my Other Half. Predominantly chocolate related – but that’s no surprise.
John Lewis has always been a store I’ve admired from afar – never quite feeling like I ‘fit in.’ I’m not the type of person who visited Johnny Lou Lou’s (someone actually called it that – I swear!) However, after meeting the staff, learning more about the ethos of the company and having a proper tour myself, I know I’ll go back.
Especially for the pizza!