Distinctive Publishing

Free Willy campaign sparked company’s recovery

A North Yorkshire shop owner says his business is heading for a second successive record trading year – and he credits its success to the international furore caused when police confiscated a concrete penis from his window.

Simply Dutch, based at Leeming Bar near Northallerton, sells an eclectic range of items, ranging from paintings and furniture to ornaments.

Managing Director Jason Hadlow said that the police incident six years ago, which led to Free Willy campaigns around the world, happened at a time when Simply Dutch was struggling in the wake of the recession and is convinced that the resulting publicity sparked its recovery.

It was in 2010 that the 3ft high concrete appendage was seized from the shop after a member of the public complained that it outraged public decency.

Police issued Jason with a penalty notice for disorder for committing a public order offence after his decision to leave the item on view, confiscated the penis and ordered him to pay an £80 fine to release it.

The resulting media story went viral and sparked support from people  all over the world, including a number of Free Willy campaigns insisting that the penis be returned, which eventually it was.

Managing Director Jason said: “Although there was a lot of humour attached to the incident at the time, there was a serious side to it as well.

“In 2010, we were just two years on from the banking crash, Britain had been hit by recession and we had seen our turnover halve in just one year.

“Now, six years on, it is a very different story. Last year was a record year for us and this year looks like it will be even better with turnover  over  £1.1 million for the first time.

“There are a number of reasons for the recovery but I am convinced that the publicity about the concrete penis was the catalyst. It meant that a lot of people heard about us for the first time.”

You can find out more about the company at www.simplydutch.co.uk