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Oddbins Wine Merchants

  • Existence, Nothingness and a bottle of Oddbins No.8, please!

    A chimp walks into a bar and asks for a pint of lager. "That'll be £8 please, sir. I must say, we don't get many chimps in here.", "I'm not surprised at £8 a pint. Anyway, am I in the right store here? I'm supposed to be talking about Oddbins No.8, and you seem only to have a selection of every day beers, most of them as predictable as that joke."

    No.8

    "Oh, right," said the barman, polishing a glass. "You should be in that wine shop just across the street. Dunno what's going on with those places, they're full of monk - er, apes, at the moment." In the snug, an orangutan looks up from the crossword in the Daily Spud and nods, sagely.

    Abandoning his beer, he knuckles his way to Oddbins' Chiswick store where his cousin, Curious, is reading a book entitled '5,000 Things You Should Know About Stuff'. "Did you know," says Curious instead of hello, "that the venom fangs of a Montpelier snake point backwards?"

    "Which makes them a sight less poisonous than what they serve behind the bar down the Hammersmith Gorilla," remarked Thoughtful. "But might you not want to swot up on craft ales, given that Oddbins' new collaboration beer will be here today?"

    Thoughtful-Banner

    "I have given it some thought, actually," mused Curious looking up from his book and rubbing his eyes through the empty frames of his pretend glasses. "It sounds like a fairly recent development, but the Campaign for Real Ale has been knocking about since 1971 to protect traditional ales and pubs from the tide of long hair and psychedelic depravity. Nowadays it seems some of the craft breweries have gone so far out that what would recently have been considered real ale might now seem like..."

    "Yeah, whatever. What gets me is, what is the opposite of craft beer? I mean, what is an un-crafted beer? If it hasn't been crafted, it doesn't exist, right? So, what I had earlier, which was patently untouched by human hand, was in fact not there. It was in an existential quandary, that's where it was, and it should have stayed there!" He rubs his tummy and emits a rumbling burp. "Pardon me! Better an empty house than a bad tenant, as they say!"

    Curious-Banner

    "Tsk, really, Thoughtful! Look, here's the delivery, let's open a bottle of Oddbins No.8 and make our own minds up." From beneath the counter Curious brings a well-thumbed volume entitled 'Everything You Need To Know About Things That Haven't Happened Yet!'. Opening it at a post-it note bookmark he advises: "A blonde style, brewed with a proportion of smoked wheat, using a yeast called bastogne, as used in the Orval Trappist brewery. A collaboration with Anspach & Hobday of Bermondsey, who started with what was little more than a home brew kit in a tiny railway arch". He raises his eyes and fondly inspects his beer. "I told you things were getting far out!"

    "Mmm, thicker texture than you'd expect from a blonde," enthused Thoughtful. "Bit of smoke to it as well. Still a fairly light body, nice fruit and a lovely sort of brioche feel on the finish. Absolutely delicious, possibly their best one yet! D'you reckon we could get the Hammersmith Gorilla to take some of this, as it was obviously crafted, therefore it is a concrete entity and they won't have to do refunds on sales made in an existential abyss."

    "We could just tell them it's gorgeous, you know..."

  • Mission Chimpossible!

    A couple of leathery digits poke around in a box. They remove a corkscrew and deftly prepare it for its noble purpose. A few more leathery digits introduce a bottle of wine, and as the cork is removed, the customers in the Maida Vale branch of Oddbins heartily applaud Loveable the chimp. Loveable has just opened the day's tasting wine with nothing but his feet and a winning smile. It's clear that his boyish demeanor has charmed the socks off some of those present, who will happily take him home and mother him. Job done! Now he must go on a mission. He grabs a handful of shiny, colourful cards from the counter, hops on his bike and wobbles off to another Oddbins store, to meet his brother Crafty. Crafty is deep in conversation with a group of American tourists.

    Loveable-Banner

    "...and it turns out the blighter had made off with my bally wallet! Anyway, yes, that claret is a big favourite of mine, tell you what, buy two and I'll take one home with me and we can compare notes tomorrow. Oh I say, here's my young brother, adorable chap. Looks young but he's actually in his twenties...". He places another bottle on the counter, next to what is now two Bordeaux wines. "...so you won't come unstuck adding his favourite Chilean red to your basket. Quite the star in his youth, whole string of TV adverts, got me a part as a confidence trickster in Carry On Cajoling. Who'd have thought?". 

    Loveable pushes the shiny cards upon him, with an imploring look. "What's that, old fruit? Malaysia? Your shop in Maida Vale is offering a free trip to Malaysia? Oh no, I can't go back there, not after the hoo-hah with the bridesmaids, dreadful kerfuffle, heh, heh, heh...Oh, the customers? Free entry with every purchase? And all the shops are doing it are they, even this one? What-ho!"
    Crafty-Banner

    From the no-chimps-land beneath the counter he conjures open a bottle of Burgundy and a handful of wine glasses, and starts pouring. The Americans are looking nervous. "You heard that, gentlemen? Once you've paid for this little beauty you get chance to win a holiday. Worth eighteen pounds of anybody's money if you ask me! Anyway, I was telling you about this chap, absolute blackguard he was..."

    With a forlorn expression, Loveable slips out of the shop and disappears into London, his rear wheel squeaking a little. From Notting Hill Tube to Portobello Road and on to every store in the capital, he is compelled to tell every single customer about this fabulous trip to a simian heartland, the very mention of which chimes a lost ancestral chord, a misty memory of Home. Instead he finds to his delight that the entire Oddbins estate has been taken over by chimpanzees, every one of them totally in command of this remarkable customer initiative, and driven entirely by thoughts of numerous festive get-togethers, for chimp and customer alike! The look on his face changes from desolate to blissful as he realises that the once lonely city is now teeming with his extended family, all wanting to take him to their bosom. Even the thought of exactly what might happen to a branch under Crafty's management doesn't rain on his parade!

    Now to find that accommodating couple from Maida Vale who were keen to put him up for the night. They might want to share the bottle of Château Peyrabon Haut-Médoc in his pannier, that his brother inveigled from a bloke wanting a bag of crisps. Will Crafty notice it's been acquisitioned? Will Loveable be expected to open the wine with his feet? Will the couple have plenty of 'nanas in after all this cycling...?

    Chateau-Peyrabon

    And off he squeaks along Elgin Avenue, back towards Maida Vale, wondering how the shops outside London are dealing with having chimps all over the place. Aren't we all...?

  • The Chimpmas Season is Upon Us!

    Glasgow, a city of contrasts; of culture of confusion, poetry and folklore, melody and melancholy, comedy and grit. All of human life is there, every incandescence of its beautiful cosmic infinity!

    And so it would seem, is the odd chimpanzee...

    In a dusty and forgotten room above a branch of Oddbins in Glasgow city centre, a chimp is reading a book about wine. He is a chimp with a thirst for knowledge, and is entranced by the section about the wines of Bordeaux. The differences between the two sides of the River Gironde, the great classification of 1855, the way the region can produce such accessible everyday wines while also being a byword for quality, luxury, history and so much more.

    Smart-Banner

    Just as every facet of humanity can be found in Glasgow, he muses, so can every aspect of wine culture be found in this one region. He checks the time. "It's getting dark early", he says to a now-closed book. "Soon be Christmas! Time to go downstairs...". He types out a message on his smartphone, amused that the technology bears his own name, Smart. Pressing send, he sneaks down a staircase and out onto the shop floor.

    In a stock room in another branch of Oddbins, in London's Crouch End, another chimpanzee is opening boxes of wine. Many of the bottles hold little interest for him, but hold on, this looks more like it. Let's see, Matetic Coralillo Winemaker's Blend, with a lovely picture of a, what's that, a cow?! No, it's Chilean, it'll be a llama.

    Matetic-Coralillo

    Notorious, as the chimp was baptised, knows and loves Chilean wine. He's been over there quite a few times while things cooled down on his manor. A quick look at the label tells him the wine is a blend of Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Syrah, and he gauges, quite accurately, that he's looking at a brambly red fruit compote held up by toasty oak and vanilla notes. His wine acumen is an unsung part of his character.

    Notorious-Banner

    He's about to slip a bottle into his pocket when his phone pings, and as he reads the message, the bottle falls by the wayside. It's from Smart. It's time to get out on to the shop floor and sing the unsung.

    And in that moment, every branch of Oddbins unleashes its inner chimp, and the #12ChimpsofChristmas take over the estate. Loveable, Crafty, Thoughtful, Passionate, Snazzy - no, not the staff, those are the names of the chimps. And so are Curious, Hilarious, Outspoken, Sassy and Crazy; like daemons of folklore, each branch has a chimp that embodies its character.

    The #12ChimpsofChristmas will be quietly taking control of all of our stores as you read this. Visit your local branch to discover their inner chimpanzee, and stay tuned to see what they'll be getting up to as Christmas approaches.

    Twelve Chimps Of Christmas

  • An Oddbins Peek Into Burgundy

    Following the recent revamp and launch of our new Burgundy range, on 6th July we hosted a Winemakers dinner at the impressive ICA on Pall Mall. Attended by customers, lifestyle press, wine bloggers, some lucky staff and three of the winemakers, it was a night full of gorgeous food, great company and even better wine!

    The night began with guests mingling over glasses of Pol Roger champagne, getting to know each other and becoming increasingly eager about what the night was to offer.

    Everyone then made their way through to the dining room. It looked incredible. We managed to snap a few pics before it was full of people, some of which included our wonderful trio of winemakers, Nicolas, Bernard and Stéphane. Cheeky!

    The dinner kicked off with Angela (our Events Specialist extraordinaire), welcoming everyone to the dinner designed to showcase our dazzling new Burgundy range and show people the passion behind the bottles. Next, Jenny, the buyer responsible for the new range, told everyone tales of her buying trip to the region, the adventures in her little rental and the benefits of Google Translate! Telling her story of discovering these wines and being welcomed into the homes and cellars of our honoured guests, we began to fully understand why these wines were as stand out as we were about to discover.

    Face to face with the menu packed full of wine and food pairings, the room began to get excited.

    The first batch of wines were on the table and ready to be poured, so of course we obliged. We helped ourselves to glasses of Remoissenet Puligny Montrachet 2014 and Roche de Bellene Bourgogne Pinot for starters. One word? Incredible! These exceptional fine wines complemented the first course perfectly. Black fig and taleggio terrine and brioche tuille. We're salivating just thinking about that pairing and yes, it tasted as good as it looked. See!

    A few glasses down (small glasses may we add), and everyone was ready to devour the starter. Potel-Aviron's Bourgogne Aligoté was absolutely perfect with this starter and had a beautiful citrus sweetness. We even overheard someone saying it needed to come with a "warning to be restrained" as it was truly "gluggable"! Our new favourite word for sure.

    Next up was the main event - lamb rump, shallot puree, purple potato and rosemary dauphinoise paired with six of our Burgundies designed to complement this course to perfection. Stéphane took to the stage delivering a wonderful speech and setting everyone up to enjoy the next round. The first wine enjoyed was the robust and sweet Remoissenet Vosne-Romanée. Beautiful.

    "If I was Duke of Burgundy, I would make it illegal to sell Burgundy in supermarkets!" - Bernard Repolt

    As would we Bernard.

    Dessert followed with a rich amaranth mousse with hazelnut crumbs, honey jelly and wild raspberry. It was absolutely divine, and paired with a choice of another round of five of our Burgundies, it was a treat for the taste buds. Sipping on a glass of Collection Bellenum Chambolle-Musigny, we worked our way through the dessert, listened to more fascinating tales from our winemakers and enjoyed conversation about "Oddbins quirky early years", from the legendary Stephen Spurrier. We finished the night tasting the wines we couldn't quite fit into dinner and mingling as the sun went down on the impressive ICA balconies.

    All in all, it was a night spent celebrating our amazing range of new Burgundy wines and sharing our love with everyone in the room for three things. The wonderful evening, the wine and Oddbins.

    "Oddbins is on a roll and I think the Bourgogne roll is the best roll to be on." - Stephen Spurrier

    Pop onto our Facebook page to have a peek at the rest of the photos from the night.

    The Burgundy Winemakers Dinner - Complete Wine List

    Starter Wines

    Marchand-Tawse Côte de Nuits Villages 2013 - £26.00

    Roche de Bellene Bourgogne Pint Noir V.V. 2014 - £16.00

    Remoissenet Puligny Montrachet 2014 - £45.00

    Remoissenet Chablis 'Amiral Vernon' 2014 - 19.00

    Potel-Aviron Bourgogne Aligoté V.V. 2015 - £11.00

    Main Wines

    Remoissenet Vosne-Romanée 2014 - £50.00

    Remoissenet Rully Blanc - £20.00

    Marchand-Tawse Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Perrières 2012 - £55.00

    Justin Girardin Pommard 2014 - £32.00

    Roche de Bellene Chassagne-Montrachet 2014 - £40.00

    Roche de Bellene Puligny-Montrachet 1er Cru 2012 - £60.00

    Dessert Wines

    Potel-Aviron Macon-Villages V.V. 2015 - £12.50

    Remoissenet Vosne-Romanée 2014 - £50.00

    Roche de Bellene Meursault - £38.00

    Collection Bellenum Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru 2001 - £50.00

    Justin Girardin Bourgogne Blanc 2014 - £15.00

  • EU Referendum - should we stay or should we go?

    In a little over a week we will march like toiling drones in an Escher painting to the polling booths to make one of the most important decisions in our nation’s recent history.

    The EU referendum is almost upon us, and thank the stars we will consign these months of repulsive campaigning to history.

    In the Donald Trump inspired post-truth era we have been besieged by misinformation, lies and malicious slurs by campaigners on both sides of the so-called debate. Never have our politicians stooped so low to secure our support and never have voters been so repulsed by their foul antics.

    What should have been an informed, serious and measured debate to decide one of the most important questions to have faced the UK in generations has been reduced to a slagging match. The mother of all democracies has been left an imbecilic bereft of all decency.

    Depending on whom you choose to believe, the NHS is doomed if we remain in the EU and definitely doomed if we leave. And the cost of a bag of groceries will significantly jump if we opt out and we would be inundated with half the Turkish population if we stay in!

    A plague on both their houses!

    Brexit Arguments

    Is there any way that we can cut through the fusillade of mud-slinging to come up with an informed decision on which way to vote?

    Well, before me as I write is a bottle of CoBo Côteaux Bourguignons 2015 (France) and a bottle of Leyda Reserve Pinot Noir 2014 (Chile). In my futile attempt to come to a clear minded decision, I might as well let these two wines guide my thinking.

    Meanwhile, business leaders from the founder of JCB to the CEO of Unilever are all graciously offering words of advice from their gilded pulpits.

    The Masters of the Universe that run the City would have you believe that they would migrate like swallows to the other side of the Channel if we leave the EU. These are the same banks that loathe “EU red tape”. Oh and the same banks that nearly bankrupted the country in 2008. Yes, let’s listen to what they have to say. Good idea.

    Brexit Voting

    Their profound utterances from on high are supposed to sway their staff and others to support their personal business cases. Well balls to that! At Oddbins I am quite happy to let my colleagues across the UK make up their own minds. They have a tough enough decision without me weighing in with dire warnings. They probably wouldn’t listen to me anyway.

    My, this CoBo Côteaux Bourguignons is remarkably good. Say what you like about the French, but they are masters of “le humble grape”.

    Where was I?

    Ah yes, business leaders weighing in sprouting drivel – the only business person to have put forward a rational, logical argument void of emotional claptrap or sentimentality, is Sir James Dyson. He argues that we are better off voting to leave not because of various dubious reasons given by the political class, but solely due to his first-hand experience of the uncompetitive nature of the EU - “we have never once during 25 years ever got any clause or measure that we wanted into a European directive. Never once have we been able to block the slightest thing”.

    Time to sample the Leyda Reserve Pinot Noir. Yep, as good as the CoBo.

    As for Boris Johnson and David Cameron – they are both so divorced from reality that they wouldn’t recognise the difference between Pinot Grigio and a Pinot Noir. David Cameron’s so called Euro Reform deal doesn’t add up to a hill of beans and Boris’ suggestion that we would have a strong hand negotiating with the EU is nothing short of cloud cuckoo land.

    Jack

    Back to the CoBo, yes, this seems to get better if you let it breathe a bit. This is something I am struggling to do in a calm fashion at the moment – is it too much to ask to have a clear answer about the consequences of either option?! All I am reading now is an analysis of the nature of the debate! Am I guilty of adding to that? Yes. Maybe. But one thing I know for sure is that in the event the result is a vote to leave, we can expect the rest of the EU to make life difficult for us even if it means cutting their noses to spite their face. Why will they do this? In order to protect the EU they will have to make an example of us so as to deter other countries that might be thinking of leaving - similar to the 'zwischenzug' manoeuvre in a game of chess.

    Really can’t make up my mind as to which of these two wines is better…

    My last comment on the subject: No one really knows what the blinking consequences of ‘Brexit’ will be, because we have not been informed or simply because the politicians haven’t thought this through. This however, should not stop people from voting to leave as long as we all realise that we can expect a world of pain for the next 10-12 years.

    So I am going to vote with my instincts and suggest you do the same. Now, where did I leave my polling card?

    IN or Out?

    According to latest opinion polls (assuming one can believe them giving how wrong they were at last General Elections!) 11% of voters haven't decided which way to vote. So if you are one of these voters we invite you to pop into an Oddbins store and taste 2 wines that represent the "in and out" proposition and let your palate guide which way to vote. The wines will be on tasting across all Oddbins stores between 20th and 22nd of June. Preferences will be counted and results released on 24th June.

    On the other hand why not try our "Leave" case of new world wines and/or our equally compelling "Remain" case of old world wines. Both cases are priced at £65 and available to order online until 2pm Wednesday 22nd of July.

    Remain

    Brexit In Mixed Wine Case

    Leave

    Brexit Out Mixed Wine Case

     

    Well, my mind is made up now, what about yours?

  • A FOX IS FOR LIFE

    They say you’re either a dog person or a cat person. When you get home you are either endeared by the sight of a wagging tail, eyes bright with the expectation of cuddles, dinner and W-A-L-K-I-E-S, or you prefer to be greeted by a pet that doesn’t give a flying fox. However, there is a third way: the fox way. Foxes combine the best of both worlds – they have the cool nonchalance of cats, combined with the exuberance of dogs, and we reckon they make the ideal companion.

    Jim Morrison

    Now, we are not suggesting that you befriend the fox that eyes you warily from behind the privet hedge at No 7 – that probably wouldn’t go down very well. We are suggesting that you befriend one of the foxes in our windows! These aren’t just any foxes – they are three-foot, bespoke, hand-knitted, Oddbins foxes and they happen to be for sale at this month’s Silent Fox Auction. So, if you think that you, or a small person known to you, might rather like to be greeted by a dapper fox after a long day, all you have to do is hotfoot it to your local Oddbins, scribble the amount you’re happy to pay, pop your bid in the box and cross your fingers.

    Lady Gaga

    The foxes have been extremely popular at Oddbins but with none more so than our Buyer Ana, who it seems will do anything to be accepted by them. Ana knows the foxes love a bargain so, in a move completely out of character, she decided to slash the price of dozens of our wines. However, she wasn’t thinking straight at the time, so she slashed them by up to 32.7% and reduced Fine Wines such as Sarget de Gruaud Larose 1999 from £39 to £27.30. Château Grand Pontet Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé 2007, the ‘first wine’ from a renowned château on Bordeaux’s Right Bank? Slashed, from £28 to £22.40. What. The. Actual. Fox.

    Liam Gallagher

    While they have the cunning of cats, foxes definitely have the easy-going temperament of dogs – you wouldn’t catch a cat letting you dress it up like Liam Gallagher for love nor money. But the foxes are bang up for it (particularly if it's a well-tailored waistcoat and top hat). It is no surprise, then, that their 2015 Wine of the Year comes from one of the most whacked-out, laid-back Californians we know of… a certain Randall Grahm, who makes the totally stunning Le Cigare Volant Blanc, down from £30 to £15. WTF? Made according to the lunar calendar, using white grapes normally found in the Rhône Valley and a hands-off approach to production, it is an incredibly sexy, finessed, lavender and quince-driven beauty. You might even say it’s foxy. Good choice, fellas.

  • ATTENBOROUGH ON CHRISTMAS: THE HUNT

    *Adopts hushed David Attenborough voice* Behold, the Christmas Shopper! This strange creature emerges once a year, on its winter migration down the High Street, to hunt down presents for its family. Whilst not essential to the group’s survival, they appear to do it for fun.

    The crew here at Oddbins have been studying their feeding habits and, along with their well-documented preference for raw salmon, turkey and Christmas pudding (although this last one seems to make some Christmas Shoppers confused and angry), we have noted their favourite Christmas drinks, which reveal a remarkable sophistication.

    Ever ritualistic, the Christmas Shopper always tracks down a sparkling wine which they pair with the salmon. Extraordinary. The particularly skilled hunters know the best hunting ground is in Oddbins and are able to track down rare Champagnes such Drappier Carte d’Or NV. Made by a family House, with a large proportion of Pinot Noir, it has incredible flavours of peach, quince and spice that make the perilous High Street a risk worth taking.

    Rush

    The circle of life is sometimes cruel and, whilst it giveth to the Christmas Shopper, it taketh away from the turkey. These two groups – mortal enemies – only ever do combat at Christmas and it only ever goes one way… Once the group has its turkey, they will only settle down for feeding time once the parents have found a decent bottle of Pinot Noir. Tagging devices placed on the parents suggests a favourite is the Cuvée G Burgundy from Albert Bichot. Experts believe it is a hit owing to the fact that it was made in collaboration with the renowned Bernard Loiseau restaurant, specifically to go with food. Yet again, we can only marvel at the skill of the Christmas Shopper.

    For the past two years, outside influences new to this species sent them into an unseasonably early frenzy on ‘Black Friday’. A curious phenomenon with worrying consequences, you can see the unique footage of the confused Christmas Shoppers captured by Black Friday experts below…

    Attenborough

  • A CELEBRITY FOX AUCTION? WTF?

    You may have seen the Oddbins’ furry mascots popping up in shop windows – and, though they may not have Annie’s signature freckles, we reckon they’ve got the little orphan beat for red hair and cuteness.

    Charity Blog - Fox in Window

    Granted, it hasn’t been much of a hard knock life for them – unless you consider wine tastings and photo-shoots a rough deal, that is. That said, although our friendly staff are far more like Miss Hannigan-at-curtain-close than Miss Hannigan-at-curtain-open, perhaps our stores weren’t the most kid-friendly of environments for our wards – what with all that booze about, and the obscene number of #WhatTheFox’s that have been thrown around lately.

    Regardless, it warms our hearts that five of our furry friends have been adopted by benefactors as generous as billionaire Mr Warbucks himself.

    Who are these mysterious philanthropists, you may be asking? Well, they’re not so mysterious; in fact, they’re five of the most recognisable faces, voices, cover drives and penalty saves on Britain’s televisions, airwaves and sporting fields – both past and present.

    For Twitter

    Move aside Annie, Mr Warbucks and Miss Hannigan – it’s now time for Sir Ian Botham, Olivia Colman, Bob Wilson, Greta Scacchi and Henry Blofeld to enter centre stage and take their bows! For each will be putting their fox up for an auction on eBay with 100% of the proceeds going to the charity of their choosing.

    The winners will win the fox, of course, but that’s not all. As a bit of an encore, if you will, each celebrity will be hosting a lunch with the highest bidder, which will include a wine tasting by our Head Buyer, Ana, and feature some of the very wines our foxes have been rapt about since coming on board.

    So get bidding! You can bet your bottom dollar that the auctions will be running throughout today, Tomorrow, Tomorrow, and the rest of the week.

    And if you miss out, don’t worry; the sun may still come out for you after all if you email us at WhatTheFox@oddbins.com!

  • BLACK FRIDAY

    Before we get accused of cheap anti-Americanism, may we begin by saying that we are big fans of American imports. It goes without saying that we love American wine, and we obviously finished all series of The Sopranos/Mad Men and The Wire before they went mainstream at the water cooler, because we’re just totally cool and zeitgeisty like that.

    However, there is one US import that we have watched increasing in popularity in the UK with growing trepidation: Black Friday. This mega discount-fest (held on the Friday after Thanksgiving) has been running in America since before the Second World War, but has only really made its mark on the UK shopping calendar in the last few years. Since then, it has raged out of control to the extent that some industry experts expect internet sales to surpass £1bn on Black Friday this year, making it the biggest shopping day of the year.

    Now, we are a retailer. We sell things, and we are as fond of a spot of rampant consumerism as much as the next capitalist. But we can no longer sit back and ignore the fact that the increasing power of Black Friday is having a terrible impact on customers and retailers alike.

    Rush

    To start with, it’s dangerous. In the US, there are countless examples of customers and employees being injured and even dying in pursuit of a so-called bargain. There’s even a website dedicated to detailing its cost on human life and wellbeing: blackfridaydeathcount.com. One woman was arrested outside of a Toys 'R' Us store after pushing in the queue then threatening to shoot other shoppers who complained. Let’s imagine THAT moving scene on Christmas morning: “Mommy got you the VTech Toot Drivers Super RC Raceway you wanted, Chuck, but she had to threaten some other naughty shoppers with a handgun to get it. MER-RY CHRISTMAS!” Admittedly things are not as bad in the UK yet, but the mad scenes of violence across the country last year are a harbinger of disaster if retailers continue with this insane one-upmanship.

    Discount Poster

    The next problem comes with the ‘discounts’ offered. Yes, there are undoubtedly some genuine savings out there, but in such limited supply that they are impossible to find, and lead to the scenes of mayhem and aggro above. But so many retailers just go down the age-old, shonky route of inflating their prices to improve the perceived discount: that electric banana peeler was never £50 and it still isn’t worth the £10 they are trying to charge for it now. At Oddbins, we are always banging on about the subterfuge of high-low discounting and the importance of keeping prices stable and Black Friday has become a monstrous illustration of the art of artificial discounts.

    Black Friday PosterIt could be argued that Black Friday is good for economic growth, but that doesn’t add up. In the UK last year, a study showed that Black Friday failed to increase profits or sales over the entire Christmas shopping period. Instead, it has concentrated the eight-week Christmas shopping period into one day, while severely dampening spending before and after. This puts massive pressure on the retail infrastructure with websites crashing, warehouses thrown into disarray and shops filled with panicking hordes. This translates into a much, much poorer shopping experience for customers, unless you really enjoy being put in a headlock by a sweaty lunatic who wants the last electric banana peeler in stock.

    So, in the spirit of peace and goodwill to all, we challenge all other UK retailers to join us by refusing to engage with this nonsense: it is a race to the bottom which benefits no-one. So, let’s reject Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Sofa Sunday, Gray Thursday and avoid why-have-I-spent-a-month’s-wages-on-this-useless-crap-Wednesday, or, at least, summon our national pride and agree an amnesty until the traditional British day when retailers are permitted to ruin Christmas by promoting massive sales: Boxing Day.

  • WHAT THE FOX?

    Being an adult is hard. We might have jobs and suitcases, and go into meetings with faces that say ‘you-can-do-business-with-me-and-no-I-absolutely-did-not-roll-in-at-3am-last-night’, but sometimes we can’t do it. Sometimes we just want to play with woolly foxes and stuff. Is that so wrong? We hope not, because we have just put 47 foxes in our shops…

    IMG_3069

    *Wipes Farley’s Rusks crumbs from face* in all seriousness, we have actually put a three foot fox in the window of each and every one our shops. Yes, it’s partly because we wuv the liddle foxy-woxy woos, but it’s also because we feel an affinity with foxes: we may not be the most powerful predator on the block, but our Buyers are cunning at digging out unexpected treasures and unearthing incredible bargains. Ana and Jenny have been foraging in Italy (not literally: they’re demure ladies as you can see, honestly), as they believe that the really exciting wines are the ones off the beaten track… Prosecco Ca’ Dei Noni, for example, is a ridiculously unusual still prosecco, made by Follador, with boundless pear drop-esque, floral charm.

    What The Fox

    It’s all well and good wanting to play with foxes and but we can tell, you, these foxes play hard. Really hard… You know when you go up to a cute-looking Chihuahua or other vertically-challenged dog and then it turns into a gnashing, yapping beast, scaring the living daylights out of you? Well, we had a similar experience with the foxes: it turns out they’re not as cute as we thought. In fact, seems they become insanely angry with people who fail to get into the festive spirit, as one customer learned to his eternal shock. We’ve got the footage here and it makes for some disturbing viewing but the fox redeems himself and, actually, turns out to be a bit of a Christmas hero.

    So, if you want to play – and are prepared to play hard – follow the foxes’ exploits in our shops and on Twitter using #WhatTheFox. Because we’re grown up like that…

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