New “store” opens in Rouen, France – but what is it selling?

A new “store” has launched in France – but what precisely is it selling?

The Watch Tower Society has set up a “store” in Rouen, France – not far from the French Bethel – aimed at promoting its official website,

The store is the first of its kind anywhere in the world, and is the next phase of Watchtower’s “Manhattan Project” – which so far has seen bookstands with Society literature pop up on sidewalks in major cities.

This new store is understood to have been financed by the French Bethel, but if successful in attracting new converts, it could be rolled out globally.

In addition to a web article featuring photos of the store being posted anonymously online, a video has been uploaded to YouTube featuring images of the store set to music from the Society’s Kingdom Melodies.

The interior of the store is reminiscent of “Ideal Organizations” of Scientology, which also feature a welcoming front desk and an abundance of literature aimed at promoting the religion to those who stop by. Here, for comparison, is a video of the German “Ideal Org” with its “Public Information Center” (skip to 0:45 for the relevant part)….

Watchtower is therefore following down a well-trodden path in pursuing this new venture. As publisher numbers stagnate and the organization downsizes, it makes sense to adopt a more commercial approach (already successfully used by smaller religions such as Scientology) and entice members of the public through sleek and welcoming interiors that give no immediate hint to the more bizarre or troubling elements of the religion, such as shunning.

Of course, there is one notable difference between the “Ideal Orgs” of Scientology and this new store, and this lies in the branding. When you approach an Ideal Org, it is clear from the exterior signage that you are entering a building connected with Scientology. Watchtower, however, is adopting a more insidious approach by hiding behind the URL “” rather than emblazoning the front with the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” One has to ask, if Jehovah’s Witnesses are so proud of bearing the divine name, then why aren’t they using it openly on the front of this store?

The store has internet, but you will not be allowed to access

And then there is the fact that the interior is laid out in a manner that implies that it is selling something. It certainly is selling something, but what? None of the computers will be for sale – they will be merely for accessing and no other JW-related websites, certainly not this one! It can hardly, therefore, be some kind of web cafe.

What the store is actually selling is allegiance to the Governing Body. Smiling representatives will give answers to questions and, eventually, you will receive a feeling of purpose and uniformity once you join. In return, Watchtower gets new publishers who can donate money to assist in defraying its operating expenses, which include defending the organization against costly child abuse lawsuits. In my view, just as with any retail business, it will ultimately be the seller who benefits more.






To read my analysis of the content of the website, please click here.

58 thoughts on “New “store” opens in Rouen, France – but what is it selling?

  • June 13, 2013 at 2:58 am

    Noticed the video yesterday which was posted on the Topix website.
    I think a very good question you ask is why there is no sign saying Jehovah’s Witnesses outside.
    The answer of course is very simple. They don’t want to put anyone off from coming in through the doors, as most people want nothing to do with JWs. It was the same when I was a regular pioneer years ago. It was suggested that we just say we were bible students in our initial introduction, and only reveal who we really were once we had a foot in the door.
    The organisation is just as devious as ever.

  • June 13, 2013 at 3:33 am

    Great explained comparison Scientology = I can imagine how big and expensive stores will be made ​​in New York to rivals the Scientology. Jesus said to them, now you have the same Father for God.

  • June 13, 2013 at 4:52 am

    its address is 5 rue du Grand Pont 76000 Rouen. But when you google streetview it, it’s still a hairdresser shop (picture dated of july 2012).
    Is it the end of door to door activity with these iJW store ? Will we (they, i can’t go to the door anymore) preach on twitter and facebook too ?

  • June 13, 2013 at 5:50 am

    I agree that if “Jehovah’s Witnesses” was a part of the sign, most people would not go in. This way they invite the curious. Reminds me of an Amway meeting (no disrespect intended) years ago that I was invited to. I had no idea what it was until 3/4 of the way through the presentation. This is truly a sales technique to trick the “buyer” into hanging around for the entire sales pitch. One thing you can say for the WTBTS, with their pop-up kiosks and now this little endeavor, they are pushing hard to stay in business. Unfortunately they aren’t governed by the Truth In Advertising laws for that would mean showing pictures and illustrations of sexually abused children and families engaged in shunning which is painful on both sides.

  • June 13, 2013 at 7:23 am

    Please tell me why my posts aren’t accepted.

    • June 13, 2013 at 9:19 am

      Susanna – sorry you’re having trouble, but evidently your posts are accepted! :)

  • June 13, 2013 at 7:43 am

    the tiny name ( reminds me of the entrance of a spiderweb.

  • June 13, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Yep, I see that one got in :>) thank you.
    What I wrote was that I would be afraid of the melodies that would be playing as a person walked thru examining their showy displays, for fear it would be subliminal. you may not be the same person when you left that site..
    Another thing , who is it that’s doing all this remodeling , is this another feature that will become a labor of love !!!

  • June 13, 2013 at 10:27 am

    One has to ask, if Jehovah’s Witnesses are so proud of bearing the divine name, then why aren’t they using it openly on the front of this store?

    Such a great question: “I have not sat with men of untruth;
    And with those who hide what they are I do not come in.” – Psalm 26:4

  • June 13, 2013 at 10:55 am

    Phase two of the store is to just put me on the store front, the QR code, so no one is not mistaken for entering. When you walk through the door the door chimes “bapppptismmm”. They give “truth lolly pops” to kids.

  • June 13, 2013 at 11:00 am

    The contents of the website is an elaborate system of mind control. I highly recommend against any parent using this tool as a teaching aid for their child. The imagery is grotesque and the human narrative is morbid and gloomy. It’s the wrong image we want to paint for the upcoming generation. should be shut down and thrown into the chasm from whence it came. ;)

  • June 13, 2013 at 12:20 pm

    Great article as always Cedars! This shift to becoming a retail storefront is very shrewd but also begs the question, “When will France try and tax them again?”

  • June 13, 2013 at 1:31 pm

    I mistook the store for Jeffrey-West shoe store—still waiting on my $350 oxfords! :-(

  • June 13, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Highly unlikely that this becomes a trend. A few problems exist with the storefront. Number One issue is COST. The establishment isn’t paying for itself and in store donations won’t pay for it. There doesn’t appear to be any donation boxes as it is. Placement has to be in areas where there is foot traffic for it to work because God knows people won’t be seeking out store locations. That means rent will be even higher. POSSIBLY a circuit of congregations could be given the responsibility of paying for one or two locations. That would have to be placed under the “new light” category. Doubtful that it becomes reality.

    • June 13, 2013 at 3:20 pm

      Watchtower Critic – great observations those. I too don’t see it amounting to anything due to the prohibitive costs. Wheeled bookstands are a much smarter option. There is just no viability in tieing up such costly overheads for such an uncertain return. Still, you can’t blame them for trying!

  • June 13, 2013 at 3:47 pm

    The first thing I thought of when I saw this on another site was they are trying to do what the Scientologists do and it gave me such a creepy feeling watching the video. We all know the door to door ministry is not bringing in that many so I guess they are trying some things other cults are doing. I thought they were so proud of ” their name” but here they are hiding it. I wonder how many pass through it and if they will expnd it. I can’t imagine that in this day and age it will amount to much. I never entered the Scientologist book store and whenever I passed one I never saw people in there.

  • June 13, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    What ever happened to “from house to house, from door to door, Jehovah’s word we spread?” I remember singing this OVER and OVER as a child. Oh, I know. House-to-house is not raking in enough $$$$ for them! Duh, I could have told them that 40 years ago. Even when I was a kid in 1971, most people weren’t home! Or perhaps they were hiding. (snickering) What’s next, radio and TV? Perhaps they will adopt marketing practices like some other late 1800’s group we know. “Hello, I’m really a normal person. I paint, ride my bike from house to house to save the planet and…I’m one of Jehovah’s Witnesses” (with big, cheesy grin and immaculate grooming glaring you in the face). Gag!

  • June 13, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    Don’t forget the Tony award-winning musical “Knocking.”

    After years of knocking Christendom for being money-grabbers, I expect they will use what remains of their investments and buy into for-profit businesses or adopt the gifting model of most religions.

    Or, like their more numerous cohorts, the SDA’s, pare down printing operations and focus more on building local community churches and hunkering down while remaining “watchful”.

    I encourage everyone to scan YouTube or Google for video uploaded by Tim Martin labeled, “Roots, Shoots and Cahoots” if you have a lingering question on the validity, uniqueness and “anointing” of the Governing Body. It is a very eye-opening documentary on how close, as a JW, you were to a burning compound in Waco, Texas.

    Scriptural interpretation with a view to becoming holier-than-thou runs the gamut–take this example:

  • June 14, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Creepier and creepier! Deperate(ier!) and desperate(ier!)

  • June 14, 2013 at 11:42 am

    I guess desperate times equals desperate measures in this case. I believe that it is another tactic to display to others around the world that they are keeping up with the times. It must be a morale booster so others can talk about the new direction the WTBS is working towards. The focus on cities where large populations reside is likely the push to increase numbers. I have mentioned before in prior comments that the downfall of this organization is coming quickly. The youth are resistant towards it more and more everyday. How can you provide stability in a faith that changes views once or twice a decade? I left because it is much like a criminal caught committing a crime which testifies that it was not them. The common blame always is towards the publishers for not fully understanding the mixed messages sent out in the literature published. Obviously if every witness followed the rules over half would be booted for rebellious behavior. Just look at their numbers Muslim faith 1.57 billion or 1/4 of the world population while last years report shows about 7.7 million JW’s or 1% of the world population. Do they truly believe they will convert a large portion of these believers? No because this faith is not changing every decade like the JW organization has over the past century. Tiny cult organization is what will be written down in the historical records.

  • June 14, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Can someone in France please organize a peaceful protest outside the store? Protestors with signs

  • June 14, 2013 at 3:25 pm

    pop. 63,128,000 (? This figure comes from the pharmaceutical distribution site and probably a government-sponsored agency count)
    CIA Factbook: 65,951,611
    peak publisher count 2013—-124,029
    % growth increase ————————->>>>> 1%
    531 heads per individual, active JW.

    Note with the higher population count the CIA uses, the publisher ratio appears worse, so the Branch Overseer and staff chose to “fudge” the numbers for International HQ reporting [again, the Watchtower time and metrics are only as good as the validity of data and with no checks-and-balances reporting is very sloppy]

    Avg net salary for France (wiki) 46,872 [3,906/mo]
    Avg convention stay cost
    lodging $162/ni ($68/ni if negotiated) * 3 = $204/convention
    meals noon and supper – $15-50/ni * 3 = 45 – 150/convention
    * 2 parents 354*2= $708/convention, plus child expenses and parking [$1,000 USD/nearly same in EUR].

    Convention expense would be a huge hit for that month, even if worker has a furlough month of paid vacation, hefty expense.

    Walk-in shoppers to a traditional brick-n-mortar store? Consider that the JW storefront has a closer semblance to the Apple Store with its Genius Bar, not a Scientology Center–though the concept is similar. It’s an attempt to polish and refine the art of marketing the religion with less dependence on the “hit or miss” (since Theocratic Min School is compressed and compacted with out harsh reviews) performance of individual publishers who “get it right” and those who read-the-script-with-monotone and lack of aplomb.

    I need to find my older Yrbk’s from 1970’s through 1980’s to determine when/if France’s numbers exceeded 100,000 mark.

  • June 14, 2013 at 5:02 pm

    % of JWs to world population not 1%, but .001%, or 1 JW to every 1000 people!

    • June 15, 2013 at 12:11 pm

      Actually, 0.1% (1% is 1 to 100, 0.1 is 1 to 1000).

  • June 15, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    Now this isn’t a first-rate high street location at all. The main shopping areas of Rouen are several blocks away. Rent for this little place must be pretty cheap.

    I don’t really see the point of this. I would have understood a location in a highly frequented shopping street, but this doesn’t make a lot of sense. It’s probably mostly an attempt to keep the publishers motivated.

    Good point about deliberately hiding the “Jehovah”, but not entirely unexpected. They know that “Jehovah’s Witnesses” will put everyone off.

  • June 15, 2013 at 1:15 pm

    1% growth rate, not the ratio/percent of JW’s to world population. And, the numbers are given country by country not summarized world pop. Growth rate refers to the rate of increase over the prior year’s numbers.

    The % of world population as JW’s is roughly 7Mil / 6.5Bil–~1 to 1,000 or .001–> 0.1%.

    The high rates of growth in Southeastern Asia are hyped because in established countries the denominator is higher than Asia thus requiring larger numerator (converts) to generate equivalent growth rates. Compare increase from 4 to 6 = 50% increase while 100 to 102 is 2% increase. So, the same level of interest looks better in new, or newly opened, territories, while established territory looks stagnant.

    Still 7M is less than half the main denom of Latter-Day Saints and less than half the count of Seventh-Day Adventists

  • June 17, 2013 at 4:22 am

    99.9% killed 0.1% saved.
    For WTS god is similar antibacterial soap that kills 99.9% of bacteria,insane.

  • June 20, 2013 at 2:48 am

    why is antibacterial soap insane? I presume you don’t wash your hands then.

  • June 20, 2013 at 11:29 am

    Nije lijepo tako komentarisati. Nismo tu da se vrijedjamo John.

  • June 20, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Nije lijepo tako komentarisati. Nismo tu da se vrijedjamo John.

  • September 4, 2013 at 10:43 am

    I have nothing smart to say on the facts but I do agree with the 1st guys comment on how we we don’t label the store as JW’S or Watchtower like we do in Bethel NY..but I know that this is how we do things is to get people curious of what’s inside that’s how our mind works kinda like that question why people get sick?..our simple and easy for us to teach.I learn this when I joined ASL.I graduated got baptized the same goals felt weak spiritualy but sisters “hooked”” me right into wanting to learn a new language and from there I realized what I got myself into and I learn that the sisters “hooked me n’ rolled me in..after that I started reg .pio.Before all of this I was born ”as a JW”but not there but once I got sick that’s where I knew I needed help once I accepted this was the right way for me my spiritual g’pas n g’mas have always lifted when ever I fell on butt they are like you’re spiritual family and a pillow under you.Ive been to Bethel NY to visit my brother and Phiipinnes to visit my parents teacher brother & sister Salango and I got to see the the Foriegn Language Dept.and this has always been a goal to tour all of the Bethel Sites..2 down and so many to go.

  • October 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

    I have never seen so many disgusting degrading responses from those who are ignorant. The Store does not sell anything. We do not sell religion…we learned that lesson from Jesus that we received free so we give free. Which is why the JW’s print and distribute more Bibles than anyone else in the world. We also publish the two widest circulated magazines in the world…and all ten of the widest circulated books in the world. Wow! No man could do all those things…and Satan, well he already has the world. The Holy Spirit keeps us doing great things for Jehovah, and that same Holy Spirit keeps us coming to your doors. The JW’s DO NOT SHUN…the Catholics do that. Please get a clue before spreading false propoganda.

  • October 13, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    Daro, you are 100% right!

  • October 13, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    The JW’s do shun. I see it in many families where the children have left. What are you talking about? The Jan 15 2013 WT says not to even email family. This summer the District Convention specifically said to not associate. Are you in the USA? Where are you getting your info. JW’s encourage shunning and have for decades. I was raised one and know this. I reexamined the beginnings of the religion this year and have recently faded due to all the hypocrisy I uncovered. Please keep searching.

  • November 4, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Some people raised in the truth never get it cause they weren’t part of the “world” so are easily mislead. Sorry to hear that but it’s not called shunning, it’s called disfellowship. Only a baptized witness can get disfellewshiped if they sin and don’t repent. No one wants bad associations who don’t care for Jehovah or his standards. It sounds harsh but only a true witness understands.

  • November 4, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    Daro Weilburg says:

    On October 12, 2013 at 7:48 am

    “Which is why the JW’s print and distribute more Bibles than anyone else in the world. We also publish the two widest circulated magazines in the world…and all ten of the widest circulated books in the world. Wow!”

    Wow! Is right!
    Someone is deep in the poopaganda pile!

    Mensch! Take a long hot shower using lot’s of (deodorized) soap and then provide some DOCUMENTED basis for any…any of that Bullpucky!

    Along with the alleged “8 million active Jehovah’s Witnesses” (more like about 4- 5 million at best and falling every day) All of the criminal and civil legal action being withheld, the Branch closings that they are the last to hear about and all the other propaganda these people are force fed every day by commission and omission, I don’t know whether to feel sorry or be angry at their foolishness anymore!

  • November 25, 2013 at 4:36 am

    I find many of the comments on here to be rather picky. I don’t have much sympathy for the JWs any more but worrying about subliminal messages in the music?? All major stores have music in the background, it’s nothing new. Also, there is prejudice against JWs so not having the name emblazoned across the front is a good idea. Maybe then when people come in they will examine the documents with more of an open mind. If the JWs haven’t got the truth who has? The churches don’t use God’s name and their beliefs and practices are full of false worship and the Roman Catholic church has a horrendous record of child abuse, imprisoning young unmarried mothers, sometimes for life, and mind control. The protestant churches don’t even try to be truly Christian and I could name many others who do not teach from the Bible while claiming to be Christian. If you want to criticise think about it first.

    • November 25, 2013 at 4:47 am

      mumqueen – I agree that there is nothing subliminal in the music – which after all was just some soundtrack added to the video by whoever made it. As to the store signage, I find it intriguing that you see nothing wrong with luring people into the store under false pretenses by witholding the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” from the store front. If this is “the truth,” why the need for subterfuge? Why be ashamed of the name “Jehovah’s Witnesses” – and the divine name in particular? If people have a prejudice against Jehovah’s Witnesses, doesn’t this make you wonder whether there might be a good reason for this other than what Watchtower is telling you? After all, JWs are banned from exploring the internet for objective information on their faith, whereas ordinary members of the public aren’t. Have you considered that maybe they know something you don’t know?

  • December 11, 2013 at 7:27 am

    I am feeling jehovah so good.. I ‘ve been learning it.. I foucs jehovah attention life..

  • December 11, 2013 at 10:33 am

    Have you looked up the definition of shunning?
    Tell us how disfellowshiping is not a form of emotional blackmail or shunning.
    My standards are even higher now that I’ve faded from JW world. I left only because I researched the origins of it and found out it was man made. The child abuse policy that protects a pedofile over a victim was also something I couldn’t stomach.
    I was a full time pioneer, without having done any logical research into the religion.
    This storefront will hopefully cause outsiders to google Jehovah’s Witnesses, and like any logical person, read both sides before they make a decision.

  • March 29, 2014 at 4:43 am

    This Borg organisation is killing us all . ..and is depriving folks of their families . ..There is so much abuse in this religion, it’s hard to take in . ..They are after your money. That’s all they are interested in your money, your parents money, and your grandparents money. They are Greedy greedy greedy . ..its costing us our lives. . .get out now, and go to the doctor. . .get your head sorted, and get this borg out of your brain. And, get a life.

  • April 12, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I wish I could have sat on my ass and counted 8 hours a day! It would have made pioneering so much easier! I don’t know how I survived 16 years of it!

  • November 23, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    have u people ever actually listened to what the witnesses are trying to tell u? I am not a jw but know some and they are the nicest honest people I know. They preach to try and save your lives because they believe that the world is going to get worse and Jesus and the angels will bring armageddon, They preach because they care, ps it is the mormons who want your money 10% of your wages per year and they are nice too but they like to shun.

  • November 23, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    what will u do if the bible is true and the end of this system does come like the witnesses preach. I bet you will all start praying and suddenly believe in Jehovah. Remember the ark door was shut by God. God must get real fed up of all the nastiness in this stinking world and want to make things better. Keep your minds open as the JWs may be right.

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