It’s pleasing to discover that a humble hair adornment played a part in the history of retail.

In 1856 John Lewis was an assistant at Carmichael’s drapery in Liverpool. He was 20, ambitious, hard-working and might have stayed there for ever. But when he found a fellow assistant interfering with his window display of silk ribbons, a fight ensued. Both men were sacked — and Lewis headed to London, where he landed a job at Peter Robinson’s clothing emporium in Oxford Street.

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