PENNY LANE 05/20/2009

Today British retail giant Marks & Spencer had a fab recession-era celebration: Penny Bazaar 2009 - which meant that for a few hours they sold a bunch of stuff for one penny.

For those of you who don't live in Great Britain, Marks & Spencer is a mid-range (but not cheap) everything store.  By "everything" I mean groceries, produce, quality clothes and accessories and housewares including everything from down pillows to pepper mills.

Anyway, M&S opened 125 years ago, so they put on this "Penny Bazaar" to celebrate its anniversary.  They first opened as a small goods stall back in 1884 with a sign that said:  'Don't ask the price - it's a penny!'  Kinda like the ol' Dollar Store - or 99 Cent Store - or in this case, the One Cent Store.  Later on M&S got so popular it didn't even need to advertise, they say, and didn't produce their first TV ad until the mid-1990s.  Pretty neat.

Today I went by the M&S located inside the sparkly (and enormous) Westfield White City mall.  They had no less than five security guards at the single entrance, and ropes indicating where to get in line for entry - or "cue" as they say in Britain.  Shoppers were limited to 5 items each, and the penny sale was over by lunch time.

The photo above was taken outside the Westfield store after the sale had begun, so I'm sure the line was actually much longer at opening.  I chose not to cue up and go in, but might check it out tomorrow.  Apparently every penny made is going to local and regional charities. 

Shame that the most each person can contribute is five pennies  ;-)

If you want to shop the sale, it's going on for three days and the range of penny products includes five jewelry sets, scarves, purses, knickers (underwear), commemorative cufflinks, ties, socks, leather passport holders, leather luggage tags, tea towels, mugs, bags of retro sweets, cans of retro drink, beach toys and beach balls.  And no, I didn't get paid to write this blog.