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What went wrong at Woolies?

Eddie Mair | 17:36 UK time, Wednesday, 26 November 2008

and do you have special memories of the store?

Comments

  • 1. At 5:44pm on 26 Nov 2008, neoGrandad wrote:

    WOOLIES days are gone. In relation to brand recognition suggest that Walmart might succeed with the stores

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  • 2. At 5:45pm on 26 Nov 2008, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    It always seemed a "cosy" shop, filled with all the right things to entrance a youngster; pick-and-mix sweets long after everyone else had dropped that, little boxes of Lego, generally, just a nice place to shop.

    Even recently, when I wasn't shopping there much, it was always useful. I always got my Christmas goodies - sweets etc - in Woolies. Sorry everyone I know, you're not getting sweetie stocking-fillers this year unless a knight in shining armour rescues them.

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  • 3. At 5:47pm on 26 Nov 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    It was the 'only place' to spend my pocket money as a child, and I can remember buying my brother miniature cactus plants there for Christmas. He still has one of them, though it is now well over 12 foot tall. (He did have to repot it, of course!)

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  • 4. At 5:48pm on 26 Nov 2008, old_thatchers wrote:

    Woolies is not just a business story it is potentially catastrophic for their 30,000 staff who are due to get paid tomorrow...will that happen if they go into administration tonight? How many of us could survive with no income and no redundancy (other than statutory 1 week for every year worked) or notice payment??

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  • 5. At 5:50pm on 26 Nov 2008, MiekeB wrote:

    When I was 9yrs old in 1961, my grandma took me to Woolies to buy me my first shop-bought dress. Up til then, all my clothes had been made from my mother's 50s style dresses or been hand me downs from the extended family. It was Ladybird brand and I have never forgotten the luxury of the elastic waist and cuffs, the exotic turquoise and brown check and the knowledge that no-one else had ever worn my dress. I then worked there as a Saturday girl for a year in the Middlesbrough store while in sixth form- great fun -they were a good employer. I am very sad that their biusiness may close.

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  • 6. At 5:51pm on 26 Nov 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    I'll tell you what went wrong with Woolies. They stopped selling hot Cornish pasties.

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  • 7. At 5:54pm on 26 Nov 2008, Poverty wrote:

    I well remember Woollies from before the war when it was "The 3d and 6d store".
    If you wanted a kettle it was 6d for the main part and 3d for the lid. It was wonderful value for kid's toys - I bought an electric motor kit for 6d which was erected on the cardboard lid. You had to wind your own armature and bend the brushes from strips of copper wire, but it really worked. Then there were pop-pop boats with little candles for heating the boiler and they were fun in the bath. I bough my mother a 10 inch glass bowl with five Easter eggs for 6d - I still have the glass bowl.
    I hope that somebody buys it and keeps the name. I'm sure many people have fond memories of it being part of their childhood.

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  • 8. At 5:57pm on 26 Nov 2008, ybborb wrote:

    Woolies have two problems I think. The first one and most important is that their stocking policy has changed. In my childhood, the great delight of Woolies was that the stock varied and so there was an element of surprise in what one found there. Nowadays stock is mainly standard, the variable stock niche having been overtaken by Wilkinsons in the main. Woolies is also disadvantaged by having traditional outlets in town centres, where parking is often a problem. The newer shops in their business tend to be out of town with ample free parking.

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  • 9. At 6:08pm on 26 Nov 2008, bradenn01 wrote:

    I used to work in Woolies Head Office more than 10 years ago and it is with great sadness that I heard the news today. Whenever I visited stores, the staff were so dedicated and friendly and everyone worked really hard. The rot was setting in even back then as competition from both supermarkets and online stores increased. No doubt the downloading of music has hit hard too - music and video were the most profitable areas that kept the business going. Recently, the business has cycled through a succession of CEOs: rarely a good sign.

    There is, however, a lot of goodwill towards such an established part of the British high street offering. There are few other places that sell household basics, such as buttons and thread, if you don't want to go to a large supermarket. I do think that the business could return to profit with some investment and a clear offering. The homewares range in the past few years has been fantastic value for some great design ideas, for example.

    I hope that the embattled business can fight to see another day, not least for the 30,000+ staff who have worked so hard to keep it going. Good luck Woolies!

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  • 10. At 6:13pm on 26 Nov 2008, lexybucket wrote:

    Ah...Woolies in Crosby High St....how I remember it! I would clutch my 10 shilling note ( my Godfather gave me this every year for ny birthday...even when I became 21 and it was 50 pence !!!!)

    and wander up and down the crammed aisles, sniffing sickly scents, popping illicit toffees from the "pik n mix" into my mouth, apply lurid Rimmel makeup and scribble with these cute bi-colour pencils!!!

    A bygone age and an institution has gone

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  • 11. At 6:14pm on 26 Nov 2008, RxKaren wrote:

    I worked for them in my first year at Uni for a short time before Christmas. My experience then (10 years ago) was of a retail chain which was losing its direction and wasn't the Woolies of my youth.

    In my store I don't remember feeling that I was treated as a valued member of staff and certainly one of the managers seemed to rule the place by bullying and intimidating staff. This lack of respect then seemed to have been accepted as the norm and imitated by other less senior staff as the way to manage other staff. Roles and responsibilities were confused and unclear and no standards of behaviour or store appearance seemed to be set. In the January sale we were merchandising stuff that hadn't sold in the previous August sale and now looked really tatty. Initiative and ideas seemed to be frowned upon and communication was very clearly "top down" with no desire to listen to any ideas, comments or suggestions from the staff.

    The interesting thing, as a manager myself now, is that I don't remember any of the basics occurring such as health and safety or proper fire training ("Follow the other staff") and this seemed to be the entire experience of working for them. There was a single department manager who tried to motivate staff but he seemed to be fighting a losing battle. I've shopped in a couple of Woolies stores in the last 2 months and got the feeling that not a lot had changed - the staff still seemed poorly motivated and the place still looked tatty.

    I'm not saying that my stint on the Ents counter was the start of the decline of Woolworths though! I was rubbish at the job but I can now see that I never received the training, support or encouragement from my managers. If the attitude isn't right at the top it will never be right on the shop floor and this will send the customers away. The failure of the management to listen to the opinions and concerns of the people closest to the customer is also a fatal error.

    Hopefully my store was just a particularly bad one and others were better. I've not seen any evidence of that though.

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  • 12. At 6:23pm on 26 Nov 2008, aquaticadelaide wrote:

    Will all Woolies close? I remember being surprised and just a little chauvinistic on seeing a branch in Santa Fe, suitably coated with adobe. They will be missed.

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  • 13. At 6:27pm on 26 Nov 2008, Anne P. wrote:

    I bought my first string of fake pearls from Woolies for 12/6 in the 1950's - they were the best fakes I've ever seen with the weight of real pearls and a lustre that never peeled off. The string broke but I've still got some of them albeit shorter than they were.

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  • 14. At 6:40pm on 26 Nov 2008, OrkneyVoice wrote:

    It is interesting to observe that the Kirkwall Woolies is still a most useful part of the community. It would seem to be run along the old-fashioned lines that many remember from their childhood elsewhere and had established the brand in most high streets: in addition to the ubiquitous sweets, toys, children’s clothes, and Christmas decorations, it is a really useful source of inexpensive, but presentable, household goods, and decorating materials. The variety of the fare on sale and the helpfulness of the staff accord with the ethos of its founder.

    Luckily for the Kirkwall branch of Woolies, the relatively new presence of the well-known supermarket brands has not offered much competition as they still largely sell groceries and the extortionate carriage that most couriers charge on-line suppliers (Orkney is not treated as the UK) causes many people to shop locally.

    Woolies will leave a gap in Albert Street.

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  • 15. At 6:55pm on 26 Nov 2008, dadwood wrote:

    What went wrong at Woolies? I fear that too many shoppers only used them to purchase those non perishable items they couldn't buy readily in the big food supermarkets. As a family, we have been guilty of this. Recently, if we could have bought our document shredder and chrome kettle at our usual supermarket, we would have. But we couldn't, so we tried Woolies and found just what we wanted AND at a good price! But even that experience failed to get us going to Woolies more frequently!

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  • 16. At 7:54pm on 26 Nov 2008, Antonhu wrote:

    When I moved away from my parents' home I was lacking certain standard household items and couldn't think where to buy them. "Try Woolworths", suggested my boss. Good advice that worked for me when I moved to Germany too. Of course, nowadays he might also have said 'try Wilko's' - maybe Woolworth haven't risen to the challenge. Pity, I'll miss them.

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  • 17. At 8:05pm on 26 Nov 2008, LuckyTiler wrote:

    Interesting that all the positive remarks on Woolie's relate to the past. What has happened is sad for an institution, and for everyone who worked there, but consider my recent experience...

    TWICE, I have gone into my local Woolworth stores with my son looking for computer games. On both occasions he searched all over, finally made a selection, queued at the counter and when finally served, we were told that the they didn't have the item in stock.

    The second time, I challenged them "So why is it on the rack?"
    "Because we're told to keep them on there so people know we sell them."
    "But you can't sell them if you don't have them in stock. It's a bit misleading isn't it?"
    "It's just orders."

    A trivial example perhaps, but maybe this reflects a cynicism to their formerly loyal customer base that has contributed to the position they are in now.

    If some businesses must go to the wall in this recession, let's hope at least it'll be the ones who lacked respect for their customers when times were good.

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  • 18. At 8:28pm on 26 Nov 2008, perfectnewswatch wrote:

    Have had the same experience as Luckytiler. Great pity as one of the best bits of advice my father gave me was "if you need it Woolworth will have it" ... and it was true until a few years ago. Not anymore I fear!

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  • 19. At 8:39pm on 26 Nov 2008, Anne P. wrote:

    Interesting that I had a very similar experience to LuckyTiler at MFI. Clearly the practice of having sample goods on the shelf but none in stock goes down like a lead balloon with customers. And in that case they refused to sell me the one item they did have because it was the display item, and they made me put it back! I have never been inside the shop since.

    Why on earth do they do it?

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  • 20. At 8:40pm on 26 Nov 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    I was a Woolies Saturday girl, too - many, many years ago.
    My friend and I used to work on the cheese counter (that's how long ago it was!) and regularly used to duck down out of view to eat chunks of it. On being caught once, we said ''We need to know which ones taste the strongest, because the customers always ask us''
    We got away with it!

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  • 21. At 9:25pm on 26 Nov 2008, Hugh_Z_Hackenbach wrote:

    My abiding memory is buying 1/9d Air**x aeroplane kits. The ones in the clear plastic bag with a cardboard picture board on top. Never had any paint, took ages to decide ... gear up or gear down.
    Oh,and a 6d tube of cement ... glue was for making Christmas calendars.
    Never had so much fun for 1/9d in my life ...although the large bag of broken biscuits for 3d might have come close.
    Happy days.

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  • 22. At 9:28pm on 26 Nov 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Like Anne and BigSis I do have some fond memories. Buying singles (45 RPM vinyl analogue audio discs)

    However I visited the local store in Southbourne with a special offer granting a 10% discount - and like another blogger - most things - especially CD's were out of stock.

    Ironically later in the evening the specific DVD was in stock and cheaper at Asda.

    I guess that says it all.

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  • 23. At 9:51pm on 26 Nov 2008, Stewart_M wrote:

    My wife was buying some kids dressing up clothes from Wollies last week. They were on sale so she was chuffed with the bargain. On arriving at the cash till the girl at the counter insisted on giving her a voucher for 20% off. So the sale item was even cheaper. Now for a company on the verge of going under, to effectively give money away at counter seems like madness, especially when the customer is already in the shop and has effectively decided the price they are to pay is right.

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  • 24. At 10:13pm on 26 Nov 2008, dynamicBroyter wrote:

    My remory of woolies in the Cricklewood Broadway will be with me until my dying day. As I walk through the store with the girl I loved I suggested, not the romantic proposal, that we should marry.That happened some 50 yeard ago and we married in 1961. That very same girl is still my wife, 47 years since we were married. The Cricklewood Woolworths will remain in our memories for ever.

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  • 25. At 10:22pm on 26 Nov 2008, laptoplen wrote:

    I recall going to Woolworths store with my dad in the seventies and never wanting to come out again and always with some toy. Now there is a miniature woolworths in every local supermarket not to mention ToysRus and the internet. Will be missed.

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  • 26. At 11:03pm on 26 Nov 2008, justfloating wrote:

    It is not so much the loss of Woolies but the loss of another town centre shop. How many more do we lose before small towns become ghost towns.

    The town I grew up in, has no real large shops left. The white goods store has gone. The hardware store has gone. Woolies has gone. The green grocer went ages ago. The butcher is holding on, but the rest: multiple estate agents and wine bars are nearly dead.

    But what triggered it was the loss of the two small town supermarkets the day Tescos arrived along the main road.

    Why have the town at all?

    Nothing went wrong AT Woolies. Its problem was down the road. just like (15) says. There was no way to win.

    It is the section 106 planning bribes that are the cause. We now do not assess the merits of a scheme. Instead we can build the worst disasters possible as long as the council gets an official bribe. It was bad enough before, when the council could see the increased business tax. But now it is large lump sums, it is irresistible. With lump sums you can build things that can be "officially opened" and so they get their pictures in the paper. Stop the 106 agreements.

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  • 27. At 11:04pm on 26 Nov 2008, Deepthought wrote:

    Proving, yet again, my "last of the old fogies" tag I have..no one younger than me has the memories or attitudes, including my brother...

    I remember the Woolies of High Wycombe, a shop with two fronts, an L shaped store, with other outlest in between. And the 1/6 labels. (My brother does not remember how pre-decimal currency works).

    Then the "new" Woolies, a shop with two fronts, on the High Street and then a second front on the parallel Castle Street. That second front closed decades ago, and has been empty since.

    Not very PC these days, but the Winfield fishing trackle. Somewhere there are a couple of fishing rods and reels, for sea fishing, from FW Woolworth, still at my mother's, one for father, one for me. Unused for decades.

    More recent, coffee mugs, one of which got chipped, the first cutlery set I owned (but superceded by my grandmother's set, as being better, even *then*, let alone my opinion of cutley sets these days..)

    Last time I was in Woolies, I'm afraid I thought the staff so unhelpful that their demise was thus inevitable, and that was 15 months ago.

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  • 28. At 11:36pm on 26 Nov 2008, needsanewnickname wrote:

    Well, I remember the Woolies of my childhood (and naughty teenage years, buying wicked cosmetics I had to scrub off)

    But now my local Woolies is great for stationery, basic household goods, esp light bulbs, anything to do with sewing, shoes and - well, stuff for those of us who mend and fix things, if we can, and the occasional present for the little uns.

    Oh, and pick n mix, but that's my secret vice.

    So I'd miss it.

    Sad thing is, there's already been a campaign to save our local Woolies from being bought and closed down by developers, a cause which had huge local support.*

    Now, well, who knows?









    * S and DMcN will be glad to know it was by the local Lib Dems, and when I asked what was going on I gladly signed the petition. The landlords backtracked and implied - implied - that the shop was safe. Hmm.

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  • 29. At 11:46pm on 26 Nov 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Perhaps we should set up an 'in memoriam' website for cherished Woolies stores?

    My own would include:

    Upper Richmond Road, East Sheen

    North Road, Brighton

    North Street, Chichester.

    Any more to add to the (Wool)War Memorial?

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  • 30. At 11:47pm on 26 Nov 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    PS and a special memorial for ex Woolies workers like Gill ;o)

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  • 31. At 00:22am on 27 Nov 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Gants Hill - near the 147 and 150 stop for Ilford Station - the one I grew up with.

    Plymouth City centre - used it a lot

    Oh and Southbourne - like Frances I bought cheap plugs, gardening stuff and some really good value Christmas lights last year - alas they failed before Christmas ended!

    As a point of interest - the Gants Hill branch was adjacent to a beautiful John Sainsbury store. -- As a Kid I remember all the tins of produce stacked up behind a glass counter. Amazing tiled wall, lovely Deli and cheeses and hams galore.

    I loved the smell of that shop so much, Sainsbury's these days doesn't quite have the same appeal. ;-(

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  • 32. At 00:32am on 27 Nov 2008, jonnie wrote:

    I have a beutiful album from the female instrumentalist 'Nanci Griffith' where the intro to the song 'Love at the Five and Dime sums up Wollies.

    It's not on this Youtube clip - but nevertheless a lovely song about a relationship at a US Wollies

    http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=HjQLGVQZI9I

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  • 33. At 00:42am on 27 Nov 2008, jonnie wrote:

    :-)

    As a brief PS: I forgot to mention that I ferried my 80 year old Mum back from a concert this afternoon in the car and we had PM on in the car.

    She looked so sad when Eddie related the story of the demise of Woolies.

    I can now relate more to the reason why - as she is one that doesn't do Internet shopping and still uses shops such as Woolworths.

    She then related an amazing story as to how my Grandfather used Woolworths to transport her beloved 'Welmar' piano around the time of the 2nd world war.

    I was surprised that it was the first time I'd ever heard the story in 48 years.

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  • 34. At 01:57am on 27 Nov 2008, davecantpaynomore wrote:

    I've a feeling that what went wrong with Woolies is that I haven't bought anything from there this century. It's all my fault. Mea Culpa. Nay, mea maxima culpa.

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  • 35. At 09:42am on 27 Nov 2008, Big Sister wrote:

    Jonnie: two points following on from your 31.

    I have christmas lights (still with their original packing) that I bought from Woolies at least 20 years ago - and not even one bulb has failed! I still find that remarkable (but realise it was probably just 'luck'). I must look at the packaging to see if it says where they were made (not China at a guess).

    Sainsburys - Well, you've sparked off something there for me, too. My parents were brought up in north London, and Sainsburys was always part of their lives. Near the Woolworths in East Sheen, when I lived there as a child, there was also a Sainsburys (I wonder if others on the Blog will have known it?), all counter service, tiled walls (as you say), men with white trilbys, women with white caps and their hair in hair nets, butter in blocks, cheese in truckles .... You brought in your own egg boxes (why don't we see that any more?) ....

    The coincidence is that my husband, who I met many years later and not in that area, was working there during this period, and we often laught at how he must have served me and my mother many many times at the meat counter!

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  • 36. At 09:44am on 27 Nov 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    Jonnie (22) Buying singles - my Mom used to fob us off by buying Woolies cheap cover-versions on their own Embassy label!! She's still got a few of them - I wonder if they'll be collectors' items?!

    Big Sis - Woolies in Wednesbury - my Mom also worked there before she was married, and she has a few tales to tell, too!!

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  • 37. At 10:42am on 27 Nov 2008, David_McNickle wrote:

    H_Z_H 21, My wife told me yesterday that she used to buy the broken biscuits for her kids.

    I remember Woolies from when I was kid in the US.

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  • 38. At 10:42am on 27 Nov 2008, Mrs Effingham wrote:

    Eddie - I shall miss Mr Woolworth's wonderful emporiums. The mighty F.W. was a celebrated merchant prince of very great renown. As a small girl I remember my dear Grandma buying me a Diamond tiara from Woolies, Gosh! that was a long time ago. Not real diamonds of course. They also sold penny patent mousetraps, and penny childrens hoops. They had penny cubes of Oxo and penny packet soups. They sold Yankee safety razors as supplied to British troops, but in those days, many years ago Woolies advertised that there was nothing over sixpence in the store.

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  • 39. At 10:44am on 27 Nov 2008, littleFluffyFi wrote:

    I, like many others, feel particularly sad to hear of the demise of Woolies. It is a shop I have grown up with and the end of Woolies is another chapter closing on life as we used to know it. I can't even begin to tally up what I have bought there over the years. I particularly recall my best friend and I picking out the best looking "diamond rings" for about 89p when we were about 14 years old. We then wore them on our wedding ring fingers in a vain attempt to pass for 18 to get into a local nightclub!!!

    Basically one of the key reasons it has failed is the growth of that unstoppable monster, Tesco! I still use my local Woolies a lot to buy presents for my kids and their friends. However, it is almost unavoidable to buy so much of the things I used to get from Woolies from Tesco instead, their range of cheap children's clothes and accessories far outweighs that of Woolworths - and the same for toys. That said I have bought several of my children's Christmas presents from there already and I will really miss my own local store, it's small and compact, nearby and usually always has what I need. On the downside the staff are generally pretty unhelpful and not the brightest buttons around and the store itself also looks fairly shambolic in it's layout...

    I really hope it can, in part, be saved.

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  • 40. At 11:03am on 27 Nov 2008, jonnie wrote:

    Re: Gillian - text taken from this link:-

    http://museum.woolworths.co.uk/1950s-embassyrecords.htm

    The cover versions attracted more controversy. Some artistes (notably Pearl Carr) were better than the people they covered for and went on to be stars in their own right. But others weren't so good. Although the Embassy Records were only about half the price of the original hits (and contained two songs) many people remember the disappointment when it turned out that "sounds like" is no substitute for the real thing.

    More's the pity that today few people remember Embassy as the label that brought them big name orchestras and established classical performers, and then introduced many Britons to a foreign language for the first time, with a cheap alternative to Linguaphone.

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  • 41. At 11:32am on 27 Nov 2008, U13717586 wrote:

    Well, there were two huge cockatoos. The one at the In door said Hello as you walked in.

    You could reach up and touch their claws. They seemed so tough and strong.

    Could such a strong, tough creature really be my friend? (We boys, as friends, would fight, you know. but still be friends)

    Then the glass sides to the sweet counters. (I broke three of them, all by accident, in my Woolies shopping career)

    The beginning of the end was when the cockatoo by the Out door said 'Good bye' for the last time.
    (There'd been some regrettable incident with a child getting hold of the In cockatoo's legs and trying to get it to fly, carrying him like Sinbad).

    Then there was the hideously smelly multicoloured sawdust they introduced, to mop up accidents in the store. I used to dread being sick in there. The sawdust smelt like it had been used ten times before. They kept it in an old red fire bucket. With peeled paint, so it said IRE.

    And much later, those records. Quite right, at 40, jonnie. The versions weren't anywhere near as bad as Victor Sylvester's TV renditions (for strict tempo dancing). At least they were paced right. But they never had the edges to their voices of, say. Lennon. But not even of Cliff's on Move It. And drum solos like on Apache sounded like up turned biscuit tin music.

    Still the glass doors were nice. And the art deco writing in silver above the shop.

    My mum used to stand outside trying to sell flags for the old people's club she eventually got the money for, there.


    And later, much later. The electric lawn mowers. Unequalled.

    And now.

    Well, something good, I think.

    Whenever a new piece of kit comes on the market, Woolworths do a cheapest possible version without bells and whistles.

    That appeals.

    The early stuff, I remember well. (Though it may have been Goodbands. I was never good on shop brand images). It was next to Joe Lyons, anyway, where tea and a plain bun and butter were fourpence.

    My dad would never let me have a sweet bun. 'Cos it worked out at sixpence.
    Which is why I've got so many teeth today. From Woolworths, I mean. I'm certain I got them next to the spectacle counter. (:-)).

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  • 42. At 11:57am on 27 Nov 2008, U13717586 wrote:

    42

    And somewhere between infancy and imitation Beatles (we understood Ringo sang those ones):

    That heiress. It was a world where you hoped to find out about sex by reading out a facsimile page, in your school encylcopedia, from the 'Breeches' Bible ('He feduced her'), to your gran and getting her to spill the beans. So, a rumour from what appeared to be the world's naughty step, about her exploits, promised much.

    Sadly it delivered little.

    Barbera Hepworth was it, or Rita Hayworth or some such.

    Though when very young, I couldn't see what the Woolworths heiress was going to do with all that stuff in her shops, when she got it. Sell it off, I suppose.

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  • 43. At 12:51pm on 27 Nov 2008, Aron wrote:

    My sister and I recall our Saturday visits to 'Woolies' as little girls in the fifties. Pocket money in our Woolworth purses we would haunt the jewellry counter .. Oooh the glitz of those 2s 11d rings! This has led to a life-long obsession with sparkle ... ending these days with visits on sale days to the 'Fine Jewellry' departments of very prestigious stores. The thrill is fundementally the same, though, and the ultimate is when we go together! How about a Woolworths photo album when those like us wearing our Woolworth brooches?!

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  • 44. At 12:53pm on 27 Nov 2008, Aron wrote:

    PS
    Oh! I have just remebered that we always ended our visit to the broken biscuit counter - spending the 1d change! NNGM

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  • 45. At 12:57pm on 27 Nov 2008, Aron wrote:

    PPS
    Also just remembering the smell of vinyl as I stood for an hour in the music department to buy 'Twist and Shout'. It was Number One by the end of the day!

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  • 46. At 1:19pm on 27 Nov 2008, U13717586 wrote:

    45

    Yeah, well, if you rated Brian Poole (who was top with it), fair enough. The Woolies version was probably a dead ringer for it.

    But the Beatles was.... somethin' else...

    You could catch it LIVE on Pop Go the Beatles at 5 o'clock on the radio, if Lennon hadn't sung it for three or four days before, 'cos it wrecked his voice, each time.

    You see, in days there was stuff worth listening to at 5 on the wireless.


    PS Here we spell 'stuff you find on the backs of sheep', wooll.

    So all those kids who got it wrong, in school, you didn't. Your head was here in Rugby. Its true. Rugby spells ALL it's sheep fur-related place names like it.

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  • 47. At 1:21pm on 27 Nov 2008, jopott wrote:

    Dad remembers being taken to Woolies in the 1940's in an Austin 16. He was about 10 years old. He remembers Woolies advertising "6 Wonderful things of sixpence"! And I'm sure they were!

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  • 48. At 1:37pm on 27 Nov 2008, sacrebleu1 wrote:

    Great memories from childhood days - but not so in recent visits: LONG queues, hardly any staff to serve the hoards of people with armfuls of stuff they wanted to pay for (I just walked out). Hardly surprising they were not doing well.

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  • 49. At 2:01pm on 27 Nov 2008, theotherdaughter wrote:

    Chief memories are of hot salted peanuts sold by the quarter (at 9d I believe) which were an occasional treat, an on really rare occasions hot salted cashews.

    My mother would never buy the broken biscuits (which looked exciting and had some bits of iced and chocolate ones in) as my father liked digestives and gingernuts.

    Woolies also supplied my daughter with the tin opener she really wanted - not fancy, not wall mounted, not electric - just standard butterfly and it always works - set me back 99p!

    There is a lot to miss about Woolworths - I hope somebody can rescue it. Even the staff seem to have a comfortable feel to them.

    tod

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  • 50. At 3:16pm on 27 Nov 2008, hazifantasi wrote:

    My mother used to go house house with a suitcase of goods for Woolworths in Durham, that must have been in the mid thirties. I don't know much more detail than that as sadly she died last year.
    I can certainly remember the make up counter with the bright pink lippy and equally bright blue eye shadow in the Woolies round the corner from Romford market.Now the market town I live near has a Woolworths that is always full, its still the heart of the town... and many of the staff have remained the same for at least twenty years. Surely someone will rescue a shop that is very much part of our culture? Or is it a sign that one of the first shops that survived through to the naughties is biting the dust as capitalism fails..

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  • 51. At 3:33pm on 27 Nov 2008, Gillianian wrote:

    Mrs Effingham (38)
    ''They sold penny patent mousetraps, And penny childrens hoops.
    They had penny cubes of Oxo
    And penny packet soups.''

    You're a poet and you don't know it! Click on ''Previous'' to find the Poetry thread ;o)

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  • 52. At 3:34pm on 27 Nov 2008, AllotmentJo wrote:

    In the middle of my front lawn is a 60 something foot Monkey Puzzle Tree. This was bought in 1920 something for 6d in Woolies (it was only about a foot tall then, I was informed by an elderly neighbour). I remember the wooden floors, broken biscuit counter, and buying a small glass oil lamp for my mum, for Christmas in the early 60's.When she died, I found it in a drawer. It now sits on my nic-nac shelf in the bedroom. Oh I do hope someone has it in their heart to rescue dear old Woolies!

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  • 53. At 4:02pm on 27 Nov 2008, colourfulpmjunkie wrote:

    Growing up in Aberdeen in the 50s I saw Woolies as a shop with a great range of goods.
    I remember that when you gave the girl behind the counter a 10/- note she had to get a colleague to supervise her counting out the change!

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  • 54. At 4:52pm on 27 Nov 2008, aquaticadelaide wrote:

    Ah well, fangs for the memories but multicorp rules - the child-turned-parent company, Foot Locker, is struggling & very proud of being lean & mean & ready for recession; their website says:

    "The company has positioned itself well for future growth.
    'We think this puts the company in an excellent position for 2009, as it will have the leanest inventory levels in over five years,' he wrote. 'Foot Locker is in position to be more nimble than they have in years.'
    Inventories have not been this low since its 2003, a year before Foot Locker acquired Foot Action."

    Humpty lives!

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  • 55. At 5:09pm on 27 Nov 2008, Screamingmuldoon wrote:

    I went to Woolies today - packed. 3 for 2 on all sorts of stuff. I bought antlers and hooves for my dogs - Turn Rover into Rudolph the packaging said "Yesssss!" I replied. But I only have 2 dogs and the girl at the till practically forced me to take a third thing - any third thing. But being me, I refused. Still, the best £4 I have spent this season.

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  • 56. At 5:10pm on 27 Nov 2008, Charlie wrote:


    Many, many, many, stitches were dropped during recent years.

    That's what went wrong...

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  • 57. At 4:39pm on 28 Nov 2008, linnhelass wrote:

    Woolies is part of growing up. Sweets and treats as a child, make up and records as a teenager, washing up bowls and kitchen utensils as a new house owner, seeds and tools as a budding gardener, paintbrushes and turps for first forays into DIY, presents for friends babies, toddlers and older children. And even at my advanced age, I can still elbow children out of the way to get at the Pic 'n Mix!! And who else remembers buying broken biscuits?

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  • 58. At 4:47pm on 28 Nov 2008, linnhelass wrote:

    Big Sister (35)

    As children in the 50's we shopped at Sainsbury's in Camberley, which was also a long, tiled shop with the butcher's at the very end. My sister and I would be sent to the butter and cheese counter to buy packs of butter and loved to watch the ladies in their hats batter it with paddles and wrap it in greaseproof paper. Mum would queue at the meat counter. Shopping took quite a long time, but I can still see the shop vividly. But I also remember the thrill of pushing a trolley around Tesco when it opened and you could just "help yourself"!

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