Captain Moonlight's Notebook: Bargains at James Lock

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LIGHT-HEADED from my essences, I headed for James Lock, the hatter, at St James where an unusual sign in the window said 'Bargains'. It was their first sale for 317 years. One's hands would have been raised in horror at a sale sign in Lock's a few years ago, I was told. Richard Stephenson, the managing director, said that attitudes had changed. 'The economic circumstances make it a sensible move. A sale helps bring in new customers.'

Bowlers, or Cokes as they are called at Lock's, are virtually a hat of the past. You can get one in the sale for pounds 100 - down 25 quid. But we as a nation are still keen on headgear, says Mr Stephenson. Lock's biggest selling item is the workman's flat cap now worn by the middle and upper classes and discreetly renamed a 'tweed'.