Woolies: One final good buy?
ALMOST everyone has memories associated with Woolworths. Nostalgically they are usually happy ones. As a very young boy living in south London I remember going on trips to the local branch of Woolworths every Saturday morning with my much older brother, who had just started working, and he would buy me a couple of plastic toy soldiers. The collection soon built up and our weekly trips to Woolies became something for me to eagerly look forward to. Over the years, having outgrown soldiers, I remained a frequent visitor to Woolworths. I remember fondly the record booths where you could go and ask to listen to the latest hit record without the slightest intention of buying the disc. As time wore on it was a place where football boots were bought and as I moved into adulthood a handy place to buy things like screws and the odd hammer. More recently Woolies could always be relied upon for bargain Christmas cards, although not always in the best possible taste as Kenny Everett used to say. And then it recently emerged that the company was struggling and couldn’t find a buyer. So last Thursday there was a tinge of sadness for me as I walked past the Ashford branch of Woolworths to see closing down sale signs plastered right across the windows. Somehow the crowds of bargain hunters gathered outside to make the most of the up to 50 per cent reductions seemed slightly like a bunch of vultures circling a carcass, although of course many were just there to snap up a good deal and others no doubt just wanted to wallow in nostalgia of the good old days. It will be immensely sad if Woolies eventually goes to the wall and the name disappears from our high streets. Let’s hope for old times sake a buyer is found and at least some of the stores remain an integral part of our shopping culture as they have been for nearly a century.