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11 December 2008 @ 04:59 pm
Looks like goodbye to Woolworth's  
For those of us old enough to remember shopping before supermarkets Woolworth's holds a special place. While elsewhere goods were behind the counter in Woolworth's the wonderful toys and sweets we wanted were right in front of us and all the more desirable.

For some years now Woolworth's has been going downhill, unsure of its identity and falling behind supermarkets and out of town stores. Yesterday we were told they were out of funds and no one has stepped in to save them. Today is the beginning of the end and they've started a closing down sale. The store in our town was not besieged as apparently some of the other 815 branches were - maybe no one here has much cash anyway.

tyrell on December 11th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
I noticed some London branches had very cheap DVDs and computer games even a few weeks ago, and kitchen/house items that will be very worth it if they're 50%+ off. Might have to look in at the weekend for nostalgia value.
Aarona_pawson on December 11th, 2008 05:14 pm (UTC)
So Woolies is about to disappear. It's nothing new I suppose, other houshold names have come and gone. MFI is effectively a thing of the past and I'm sure many people can remember there being a C&A on every high street.

I remember chains like Rumbalows, John Menzies, Wm Low, Allders, Tandy, Radio Rentals, Ratners, Dunn & Co., all of which have gone bust and vanished forever. There must be others, can anyone think of any?
Mat Bowlesmatgb on December 11th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
*cough* Menzies didn't go bust, they sold the stores to WHSmiths. They're one of the biggest magazine and newspaper distributors in the country.

But apart from that nit-picking, yeah, agree, stores die, brands move on. Been into the local Wollies a fair bit since I moved up to Yorkshire as they were good for kids clothes. But for DVDs and stuff we'd normally buy online (through companies supplied by E-UK) or in the local Sainsburys (also supplied by E-UK), because they were cheaper.

When your distribution wing is selling to competitors in a way that lets them under cut you on your core competence, you're in trouble.

Apparently my old local Woolies in Paignton was one-in one-out at times today. Which I think is pretty good evidence for why I left the town...
Zagellazagella on December 11th, 2008 06:20 pm (UTC)
I remember all those stores you mentioned. The only other one that springs to mind was a supermarket chain: Fine Fare. I used to shop there as a student and loved their own-brand oven chips.
Aarona_pawson on December 11th, 2008 06:31 pm (UTC)
I don't think Fine Fare went bust did they? I thought they became Gateway, which then went on to become Somerfield.
h a n n a hthisglasnost on December 11th, 2008 07:37 pm (UTC)
Yeah, that's right. We had one where i grew up.
The Stainless Steel Rat: SF Gogglesstainsteelrat on December 11th, 2008 05:21 pm (UTC)
I'll miss 'em for pick 'n' mix! Where will I buy it now?...
Aaron: Kittens blinking eyesa_pawson on December 11th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
People bought Pick'n'Mix!!! I thought everyone just pinched it.
The Stainless Steel Rat: Food Glorious Foodstainsteelrat on December 11th, 2008 05:36 pm (UTC)
That's the cause of Woolies going under!

(And I couldn't pinch it in the volumes I required)
Mr. Gumbysarah_a67 on December 12th, 2008 12:59 pm (UTC)
Wilkinson's, though admittedly it's not as good.
zephret on December 11th, 2008 05:22 pm (UTC)
Did anyone watch that video on that BBC link?

What dumb fucks... seriously, people think cheap goods are their Western given right or something.
Aarona_pawson on December 11th, 2008 05:29 pm (UTC)
It's hardly surprising. We live in a society obsessed with cheap prices, no matter what the consequences. We are also obsessed with cheap goods, which are disposable. They may only last a week, but are then discarded and replacements bought.

The UK has been importing or exploiting cheap labour for centuries. We may one day run out of countries we can get to make us stuff for next to nothing, but that day is still not in sight.
zephret on December 11th, 2008 05:34 pm (UTC)
The mindset of people here just really blows me away... people just live in their own little world and have no idea why all of a sudden things are disappearing and money is running out. We don't have a right to spend money we don't have.
Ayoub™ayoub on December 11th, 2008 05:41 pm (UTC)

It's a shame...
fiat_knoxfiat_knox on December 11th, 2008 05:58 pm (UTC)
Local Woolies
My local branch was besieged early this morning, with a long queue at both entrances waiting to get in. It was reminiscent of buzzards circling.

I'll miss the cafe there. I'll also miss the DVDs, which were always cheaper than anywhere else - the supermarket chains notwithstanding.

Some American friends visiting here were surprised to see the brand name still standing, by the way. It's an extinct brand in its homeland.

I guess I'll have to break the sad news that it's now extinct globally.
mimi65 on December 11th, 2008 06:33 pm (UTC)
woolies......woolworth to us
what a wonderful store.....a long time ago. I suppose most drug stores in the US have taken their place. We hardly see Woolworth's here anymore. When I was a kid and that was over 55 years ago, Woolworth's was the place to go...they had everything, including a lunch counter where one could have a grilled cheese or a sundae. Happy to see you have enjoyed them....so have we.
Guess dime stores are a thing of the past....and now are called Big Lots, or CVS or Walgreens, or Longs, or Rite Aid (drug stores in the US) happy holidays
ijournalerijournaler on December 12th, 2008 04:37 pm (UTC)
Re: woolies......woolworth to us
Thanks for stopping by on our UK journal.I remember a Woolworth's in Philadelphia but that was in 1965...
mimi65 on December 12th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)
Re: woolies......woolworth to us
you are welcome.....saw the new site and thought I'd read.....Happy Holidays mimi
Nathaniel Wolfthornganimede on December 11th, 2008 07:25 pm (UTC)
I worked in Woolies for a couple of years before I went to uni. I think the problem was that it spread itself too thin and tried to cover all bases, rather than sticking to what it was good at: toys, children's clothes and homewares. It was silly to do magazines, especially in my hometown where it's directly across the road from WHSmiths. It just tried to be jack of all trades but ended up failing miserably.
Blow An Artery; Eat Plastic Surgery.throwingpunches on December 11th, 2008 09:40 pm (UTC)
Woolies, good for: toys, children clothes, and not much else. Safe to say, I won't miss it that much. Unfortunate for my friend though who only got a job there a few months ago. Fingers crossed it's replaced in my town with something we can actually benefit from
sw33tf00lsw33tf00l on December 11th, 2008 09:45 pm (UTC)
Wilkinsons is the nearest thing to what Woolies should have been, cheap prices AND pick & mix. I'm hoping Wilco's have enough nous & cash to move into some old woolies sites. On the news it seemed the Tesco had their eye on the stores!

They made the mistake of trying to copycat Argos by adding a delivery service.

For sure Woolies used to be good, but over the years its lost its charm.
Allanalbowsmit on December 11th, 2008 10:41 pm (UTC)
Wilkos still dedicate at least two thirds of their shop space to what they're good at; hardware and stationary.

Woolies should've done the same thing.
Heather: Noes...piikyo on December 12th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
God i'm going to miss woolworths...they had random stuff in there that you never really wanted but you'd buy anyway...

One of my local ones started it's closing down sale a day earlier than the announcement apparently. Chaos. Boxes torn, stuff all over the shop, scruffy conditions. Looked like a storm had blown through.
Guess with a sale like that there's no real point to cleaning it up anymore...

Going to miss those shops. Good times spent buying toys, sweets and video games.
ijournalerijournaler on December 12th, 2008 02:30 pm (UTC)
Thanks for all the comments.
Very interesting discussion and points everybody made.

Have to add that in town this morning I noticed the people looking most cheerful were the market traders who have their stalls right opposite the failing giant.

I also wonder what happens about the £385 million debt they announced in November - who in the end pays for it?

Edited at 2008-12-12 02:32 pm (UTC)
lisa ~ Petals_frailmysteryfem on December 15th, 2008 01:48 am (UTC)
I use to go there often as a child, they had a great pic n mix sweet section! lol

Its a shame whats happend