The first Original Levi Store in the UK opened at 51 the Parade (now the Vodaphone shop) Leamington in 1987. I was 17 at the time and had a Saturday job there and then later went on to manage the shop till it closed in 1995. It was a franchise and opened after the success of the relaunch of Levis with the Nick Kamen laundrette ad in 1985. At the time it was one of the coolest shops to work in because not only did everyone want a pair of Levi’s but also the shop fit was very modern – we had MTV on TV screens, a great sound system for playing music, and all the staff were very young.
Celebrity open evening
We had a celebrity open evening of the store with the latest actors from the advert ‘Entrance’, and also Eddie Kidd, Michelle Devlin, and Clothes Show presenter Caryn Franklin. We had people queuing up outside the shop as they waited to have their photo taken with them (before selfies!) and get their autographs. ‘Entrance’ is the advert where Eddie Kidd gains access to a night club in his 501s jeans and BB King’s Stand by Me is the soundtrack.
Working with Levi’s always meant that the marketing and promotions were always great. We were often treated to special nights out including tickets for live concerts, back stage passes and BRITS tickets. There was one campaign to find the next Levi model (years before Sky’s Next Model!). We had Select Model Agency from London visit to select a finalist from over 500 photo entries from the Leamington area. I remember laughing as the Model Scouts left the shop and tried to hail a cab on the Parade at midday!
I think the shop was a record store before it was the Levi Store. I think it was called Music Market, can anyone remember? I am sure I brought some records from there. It had been a house at some time in the past because one day a lady came in and said that her grandparents had once lived there. She remembered playing in the cellar so I took her down so she could have a look. The cellar runs under the actual Parade road.
During the early 90s ram raiding was taking place around the country. The shop got raided in the early hours of a Saturday morning and I had a call from the police to attend. The front doors had been smashed in and over 100 pairs of jeans had been stolen. Outside was a large group of people who had been out for the evening and were stood around amazed at the scene and that this had happened in Leamington. The thieves were caught the next day and the majority of stock was returned. There were pictures in the local papers. Do you remember the raid?
The Original Levi Store was first called the Levi Shop when we first opened but changed to the Levi Store after a couple of years. The bags were very distinctive and were one of the first shops to offer a top quality paper bag. Other stores opened around the country mainly in university towns and cities.
We had lots of regular customers that would travel from Birmingham as some stock was limited to the store. Regulars included Coventry City Football Players and Terry Hall from The Specials. Did you visit the Levi Store? Did you buy your first 501s or Levi items from the shop. Do you still wear them or have you kept them for old times sake? I often bump into people who remember the shop and they often talk about what they brought.