The Apple Boutique closes down

9.00am, Wednesday 31 July 1968 (45 years ago)

The Beatles decided the previous day to close down their Apple Boutique in Baker Street, and announced that they would give away the stock. Members of the public queued throughout the night for a chance of getting a free item.

It was a big event and all the kids came and just took everything that was in the shop. That was the best thing about the whole shop, when we gave it all away. But the night before, we all went in and took what we wanted. It wasn’t much, T-shirts… it was great, it was like robbing. We took everything we wanted home.

And the next day we were watching, and there were thousands of kids all going in and getting their freebies. It was great. Of course, Derek and the others hated it but it so happened that I was running the office at that time, so we were in control. Paul had called me up one day and said, ‘I’m going away. You take over.’ It was as stupid as that.

John Lennon, 1972
Anthology

The shop was stripped bare by eager souvenir hunters, with fittings and carpets being taken away. The Beatles themselves stayed away, working on Hey Jude at Trident Studios in Soho.

We went in the night before and took everything we wanted. We had loads of shirts and jackets – we cleaned a lot of the stuff out. It wasn’t a sale, we just gave it all away, and that was the best idea. In the end, of course, people were coming with wheelbarrows. It was silly, but we had wanted to open a shop and dress everyone like us.
Ringo Starr
Anthology

The Apple Boutique was situated at 94 Baker Street. It had opened on 7 December 1967, but fell foul of council objections over the psychedelic mural painted on the outside.

If they’d protected it and the painted wall was there now, they would be saying, ‘Wow, look at this. We’ve got to stop it chipping off.’ But that’s just typical of the narrow minds we were trying to fight against. That’s what the whole Sixties Flower-Power thing was about: ‘Go away, you bunch of boring people.’ The whole government, the police, the public – everybody was so boring, and then suddenly people realised they could have fun.

Once we were told we had to get rid of the painting, the whole thing started to lose its appeal. The whole tone of the events around the Apple shop was going sour, and – as it was not working out – we decided to sell it. We ended up giving the contents away. We put an ad in the paper and we filmed people coming in and grabbing everything.

George Harrison
Anthology

Paul McCartney wrote a press release, explaining The Beatles’ motives for closing the stores.

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. The Kings Road shop, which is known as Apple Tailoring, isn’t going to be part of Apple anymore but it isn’t closing down and we are leaving our investment there because we have a moral and personal obligation to our partner John Crittle, who is now in sole control. 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 Beatles gave their other store, Apple Tailoring (Civil and Theatrical), over to its manager, Australian designer John Crittle. It was situated at 161 King’s Road, Chelsea, London, and had opened in May 1968.

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