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  #1  
Old 26 Dec 2008, 19:59
UKBusinessLive UKBusinessLive is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Real name: Gerry
Life without Woolworths: The end of an era

Just shy of its 100th birthday in this country, a beloved North American import Woolworths is about to vanish.

An enduring fondness for the retail chain's mix of clothing and housewares not to mention its popular pick-n-mix sweets counter has kept it afloat here more than a decade after the business disappeared in the United States.

But the global credit crisis and changing consumer tastes forced Woolworths to file for bankruptcy last month. The administrators for the collapsed chain, Deloitte & Touche, launched a going-out-of-business sale last week after failing to attract a buyer.

Employees have struggled to keep shelves restocked as bargain hunters have poured into the chain's 815 stores, eager to take advantage of 50-per-cent discounts.

One day recently at a Woolworths in Putney, a London suburb, some shelves were empty and clothing and other merchandise was strewn on the floor after being picked over by frenzied customers.

Everywhere, buyers were eager to find bargains. For example, a play kitchen set that was once about $91 (U.S.) had been marked down to about $36. Video games once priced at about $60 had been marked down to less than half that amount.

Carolyn Fincham was just one customer who said she was sad to see the stores go.

"Woolworths was a place I could go to get just about anything, whether it was shoes or socks or a last-minute birthday gift," she said. "It's just a real shame it won't be around any more."

Many Britons remember buying their first vinyl single record at a Woolworths. Many mothers say it was where they bought their child's first school uniform. In recent years, Woolworths became one of the first sellers of Halloween costumes and decorations in Britain. Often it was children who packed the stores on weekends, seeking to spend pocket money on toys and candy.

Peter Wood, an expert on the London economy at University College London, said he fondly remembers the "Woolies" of the 1940s and 1950s.

"We were relatively poor then, but as we have gotten richer, Woolworths seems to have fallen behind," he said. "Even 10 years ago, going into Woolworths was a depressing experience, with a confusing array of cheap tat."

Wood said that while the credit crunch may have delivered the final blow, Woolworths has not been meeting the needs of enough of its consumers for a very long time.

Woolworths was founded in Utica, N.Y. in 1879 by Frank Winfield Woolworth, who conceived the novel idea of selling a variety of goods for a fixed price of either a nickel or 10 cents the original "five-and-dime" concept.

Following a rapid expansion across the United States, Woolworth decided to try his luck across the Atlantic, opening his first store in Liverpool in 1909. The concept was the same.

The F. W. Woolworth Co. eventually came under British ownership in 1982. But the last few years have been hard on the chain as shoppers started seeking better deals at supermarkets and on the Internet.

I started my very first job with Woolworths when i was just 15, its a real shame its come to this, do you have any memories of woolies???
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  #2  
Old 26 Dec 2008, 20:07
GSeybold GSeybold is offline
 
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Ah MAN I'm SORRY..
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Old 26 Dec 2008, 20:10
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puertoblack2003 puertoblack2003 is offline
 
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wow,I haven't heard of that name for years and didn't know it still exist.I remember shopping for my mom and dad with the little money i had to get them either birthdays or father and mother's day .

But now all these new franchise came out Walgreens ,Walmart,Target and few others i may missed and knocked out these little guys out.

With my beliefs and i'll share with everyone, life must goes on. Nothing is this world is an eternity

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Old 26 Dec 2008, 20:15
GSeybold GSeybold is offline
 
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I just thought of something.

There were a few stores of my childhood that closed down and I purchased a few moments online through EBAY. I just checked for vintage Woolworth items and there is a ton of stuff.

Just a thought. Sort of helped me.
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  #5  
Old 26 Dec 2008, 20:19
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KW802 KW802 is offline
 
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I'm in PB2003's general area as well and Woolworth's has not had a presence in this area for years. Before the rise of the strip malls and big-box-stores like Wal-Mart & Target, Woolworth's (in the area I grew up at least) was located in the middle of town and was the place for shopping, especially since most people walked to it.

As retail stores evolved to what we have now, the local Woolworth's stores devolved into discount stores, both in merchandise quality & the condition of the stores, and finally just disappeared altogether.

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  #6  
Old 26 Dec 2008, 20:57
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Wayne Luke Wayne Luke is offline
 
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Originally Posted by UKBusinessLive View Post
Just shy of its 100th birthday in this country, a beloved North American import Woolworths is about to vanish.
Woolworth's went out of business in North America a long time ago. Probably 20 years. Amazing they held on this long in the UK.
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  #7  
Old 26 Dec 2008, 22:00
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Reeve of shinra Reeve of shinra is offline
 
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Wow, I haven't heard that name in many years. Like Wayne and others said, Woolworth's went out of business here in the states a very long time ago. I didn't even know they still existed over in the UK.

There is a small shopping area near my house and the name woolworth's is still shown on some tiles where their old store used to be. Ah, good times, good times.
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Old 26 Dec 2008, 22:10
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Shelley_c Shelley_c is offline
 
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Our local store just sold the last of their stock. I was talking to one of the woman who worked there for 20 odd years and she was nearly in tears not only because of the job but because woolworths owns the block of flats/appartments where she is living so she may be forced out.

I never really shopped at woolworths but it was well known for it's pick n mix
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  #9  
Old 26 Dec 2008, 22:54
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Roms Roms is offline
 
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I used to shop at Woolworth's when I lived in Illinois... That was years ago...

Sad to see them go, times are changing...
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Old 26 Dec 2008, 23:35
Netunt Netunt is offline
 
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Real name: Alex
In the UK, Woolworths was everywhere. In fact, my first ever memory was in the toy section of Woolworths. I'm pretty sad to see it go, it is one of the biggest shops in our town

I bought my first album and my first single from there. I used to get all my games from there too.

3kg sweets = 7

It's a real shame. I got 20 Woolworths vouchers for Christmas too
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  #11  
Old 26 Dec 2008, 23:35
pnosko31 pnosko31 is offline
 
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haven't heard that name in awhile. I remember here in Canada shopping at Woolworths - I believe they also used the name Woolco here until around 94 when Walmart bought most of the Canadian locations (the one's that were not unionized of course!) the rest they renamed "The Bargain! Shop".

Last edited by pnosko31; 26 Dec 2008 at 23:46.
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  #12  
Old 06 Jan 2009, 21:43
UKBusinessLive UKBusinessLive is offline
 
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Real name: Gerry
The Wonder of Woolies

Broken biscuits, sweets, light bulbs, cheap aftershave, hot roasted peanuts, hi-fi towers and haberdashery - it could only be Woolies.

Well its happened. the store is finally closed after 99 years trading.

After 99 years on the British High Street, Woolworths begins its closing down sale on Thursday. It may have struggled to stay in step with today's shopper, but like any institution it will be missed. Take a nostalgia trip to the "Wonder of Woolies
Have a look at this short video, perhaps it brings back memories to you

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/7777118.stm
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  #13  
Old 06 Jan 2009, 21:45
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Caddyman Caddyman is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Wayne Luke View Post
Woolworth's went out of business in North America a long time ago. Probably 20 years. Amazing they held on this long in the UK.
yeah, i remember the woolworths here in Delaware, it was so cool as a kid, and had a nice diner attached too!
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Old 06 Jan 2009, 21:48
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Dean C Dean C is offline
 
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Their problem was they sold everything, and they weren't even cheap. They had no niche.
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Old 06 Jan 2009, 22:43
UKBusinessLive UKBusinessLive is offline
 
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Originally Posted by Dean C View Post
Their problem was they sold everything, and they weren't even cheap. They had no niche.
Very true Dean, But its sad to see 33,000 people lose their jobs as a result, I think woolworths dabled too much in too many things, and like you said had no niche, so they couldn't excel,

Gonna miss Wooly & Worth on TV too

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gSni2QMUMc4

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