The ‘Fifty Shades’ Effect: UK Hardware Store Chain Prepping for Run on Rope

Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan in ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’

by Nancy Tartaglione

Fifty Shades Of Grey debuts tomorrow here in Berlin just as it begins to roll out in France, Belgium and Switzerland ahead of releases in 54 other international markets, and North America, over the coming weekend. In Berlin, we’re girding for what is expected to be total madness surrounding the press screenings. Over in the UK, a leading hardware store chain is girding in a different way: Staff at B&Q has been told how to prep for a big demand in rope, cable ties and tape.

The Telegraph has published a leaked memo that reveals that workers at the do-it-yourself chain have been asked to prepare themselves for “sensitive” customer questions about certain products. They’ve also been asked to read E.L. James’ book to ensure they know what they’re talking about. Awkward?

Watch the hardware store scene from the movie:

Per the Telegraph, the memo is entitled “Staff Briefing – Preparation For Fifty Shades Of Grey Consumer Queries.” It was sent to the 20,887-strong workforce at 359 stores.

B&O Hardware
B&O Hardware

Copies of the erotic novel reportedly have been delivered to each store and can then be lent to staff on a one-week basis. The idea is that staff should familiarize themselves with the book so that any questions from copycat viewers be handled in a “polite, helpful and respectful manner.”

One scene in particular has been highlighted: when Christian Grey introduces Anastasia Steele to the world of BDSM. The book and the film include a scene in which he visits a hardware store to purchase rope, cable ties and tape. B&Q’s thinking is prescient. When the book was released in 2012, hardware stores in the UK and U.S. both reported increased demand of certain products, the Telegraph notes.

Here are a couple of notes from the memo that the Telegraph published:

“Following the film release of Fifty Shades of Grey, B&Q employees may encounter increased customer product queries relating to rope, cable ties and masking or duct tape. Store Managers should anticipate the need for extra stock and store staff should read the following brief to prepare them to handle potentially sensitive customer questions…

It is always B&Q’s policy that products should only be used for their designed purposes. Nevertheless, all staff should read this briefing notice to prepare for potentially sensitive customer enquiries and managers need to be aware of the implications that the film may have on stock levels…

Queries may be unusual and sensitive in nature but staff are reminded of B&Q’s commitment to assist customers in a polite, helpful and respectful manner. A level of discretion is also advised…

Store managers are requested to monitor stock levels of rope, cable ties, masking tape and duck tape to ensure that supplies do not run low.

The date for the DVD and home entertainment release of Fifty Shades of Grey is yet to be confirmed but a second briefing may be issued closer to that time.”

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Image credit: Universal