It was fifty years ago today- July 31, 1968 The Beatles closed their Apple Boutique -and on this last day gave everything in the shop away.
The Apple Boutique opened on December 7th, 1967 as one of the first of the business ventures of The Beatles new Apple Corps. The goal of The Beatles with this store was summed up by Paul McCartney when he said they wanted to have “a beautiful place where beautiful people can buy beautiful things.” The store was located at the corner of Baker Street and Paddington Street, Marylebone, London. From the get go the store was a financial disaster. The store was managed by John Lennon’s boyhood chum Pete Shotton and George Harrison’s wife’s sister Jenny Boyd.
In the end The Beatles closed the store because it was simply put a financial disaster, they were losing up to £200,000 a day by the end. The Beatles were musicians not businessmen at this point.
Paul McCartney would say “We decided to close down our Baker Street shop yesterday and instead of putting up a sign saying, ‘Business will be resumed as soon as possible’, and then auction off the goods, we decided to give them away. The shops were doing fine and making a nice profit on turnover. So far, the biggest loss is in giving the things away, but we did that deliberately. We’re giving them away—rather than selling them to barrow boys—because we wanted to give rather than sell. We came into shops by the tradesman’s entrance but we’re leaving by the front door. Originally, the shops were intended to be something else, but they just became like all the boutiques in London. They just weren’t our thingy. The staff will get three weeks’ pay but if they wish they’ll be absorbed into the rest of Apple. Everyone will be cared for. … All that’s happened is that we’ve closed our shop in which we feel we shouldn’t, in the first place, have been involved. Our main business is entertainment—communication. Apple is mainly concerned with fun, not with frocks. We want to devote all our energies to records, films and our electronics adventures. We had to re-focus. We had to zoom in on what we really enjoy, and we enjoy being alive, and we enjoy being Beatles. ”
The night before the closing The Beatles, their girlfriends and wives came and took what they wanted and the next day the doors were thrown open and it was announced the public could come in and take what they wanted- one item per person. As the word spread of the give away- hundreds of people rushed to the store and the police had to come because of the near riot. People love free stuff don’t they.
One of the main things about the entire venture that is remembered today is the psychedelic mural painted on the building by local London art students.