F. W. Woolworth, known throughout our land as "Woolies" is today beginning a final closing down sale. 800 shops will be selling all their stock off in the run up to christmas. It was a retail company that was one of the original American five-and-dime stores. The first Woolworth’s store was founded, with a loan of $300, in 1878 by Frank Winfield Woolworth.
As a child and particularly at this time of the year, woolies was magic. One of Santa’s helpers oversaw the toy grotto. Dolls for the girls, cars and clockwork trains for the boys. Games and the latest annuals for all. Magic indeed. Having grown older the wonder of the store, like the season, has diminuished. Our store in the depths of Manchester had large square counters behind which stood the shop assistants – they were able to add the cost of your purchases together in their heads and, wonder of wonders, they could dispence your change without an electronic aid. Woolies was the place where they sold chocolate and sweets [In jars before the germy pik n mix!], parents sent you for cotton and needles and nuts and bolts , candles and parafin oil. Buckets and mops and most other necesary household items. I still have in my cupboard a couple of dinner plates I bought for my first flat in Doncaster. When I first heard of the sale I thought great, I must pop around for a bargin or two but now I hesitate, the reason I and thousands of other people have deserted the company, is that they do not cater for the household, having been surplanted by Wilkinson’s stores in most of our high streets. Half price cheap and shoddy toys, dvd’s by people I have never heard of and children’s clothes are not very high on my weekly, let alone, my christmas list. Somewhere the management ‘plan’ lost its way, instead of selling what the folk needed they began to sell what the accountants decided we should have!
Goodbye Woolies – thanks for those childhood memories.