I was really shocked to hear this but it doesn’t surprise me - Woolies is kind of a jack of all trades and a master of none and despite high sales has failed to make a profit for a while. If you want cheap tat you can get it in pound land, if you want music/DVDs you got go Zavvi/HMV/Amazon, if you want toys you go to Argos/look for them online.
The only thing it really had that was distinctive was the pick’n’mix but that’s hardly a massive generator of revenue.
The American Woolworths stores have been gone for years, but it sounds like yours were like ours used to be. I remember the one that was several blocks up the street from Dad’s store when I was a little kid.* What a wonderland of delights that was! And most the displays were low enough that even a kid could see across the whole store, which made it seem an even more incredibly vast display of trinkets, doo-dads and gizmos. Reading glasses, crap from Ronco, tropical fish, clothing, toys, a lunch counter…man oh man, Woolworths was totally great.
*To top it off, the Woolworths store was the western limit of our solo wandering. “Don’t go past the Woolworths without coming back and checking with us!”
I think their shop in my local high street is the biggest single piece of floorspace in the town centre. It’s also a rather striking building, with distinctive original cast iron window frames on the upper floor. I fear that it will both sit empty for some time, and then be acquired by an unpleasantly generic retailer (Tesco have been trying to get into the town centre for ages…)
That said, I can’t remember the last time I bought anything in there, and I’m not alone. There’s few, if any, things which I’d have gone there for, because of being able to variously get either cheaper or better-quality items elsewhere, before even considering the online competition.
I was really surprised to hear this, the Woolies in the Centre (Mall) here is always really busy. I was in there last weekend and it was piled high with Christmas products, it didn’t look like a business in trouble. I didn’t spend anything (since they didn’t have what I was looking for), maybe if I’d just bought a saucepan. . .
You can’t have a high street without a Woolies. What is going on? Who’s next W.H.Smith? Boots?
Ah, the great British chains of my youth. None exist in Canada anymore. Woolworths changed to Woolco and got bought out by Wal-Mart. Boots left. Marks and Spencer left. I think that W. H. Smith is still around in some small way in Canada, but it may have been agglomerated into the tentacular bookselling mass that is Chapters/Indigo/WBB.
That’s sad. I only vaguely remembered Woolworth’s from when I was really little; when I came to England to go to school I was surprised to see they were still around. I was just in one today, actually, to get Christmas decorations on sale. I guess I’m surprised to hear this, because whenever I’ve been in the one on the high street it’s always been really busy.
Tesco, unfortunately seem to be buying up Woolworths stores or at least taking over the leases as they lapse at present.
We recently went on holiday to Lyme Regis, where Tesco has taken over the lease, Woolworths has closed, with a number of redundancies and the local stores (mainly small and privately owned) will now be under threat as they cannot compete with the buying power of Tesco.
Last we saw there was a large protest on the day Woolworths closed. Whether it will do any good is unlikely, but at least they tried.
There are still some Woolworths in Cyprus, but they are a different animal altogether. They are more like department store along the lines of Debenhams. The branch in Nicosia has a viewing platform on its top floor that enables you look over into the Turkish controlled part of the island.
Edit, After doing some more research, it looks as though the Woolworths name has now disappeared from the island. They have now been re-branded (surprise, surprise) as Debenahms.
I thought something was amiss. I bought a pair of Nintendo DS consoles in Woolworth’s last Saturday - because one of their staff was standing outside trying to drag in customers with ‘10% off everything’ vouchers. The atmosphere in the store was weird - on returning home, I remarked that it was like they’d all just been told some bad news or something.
The Australian iteration of Woolworths (also trading as Safeway in some markets) seems to be as virulent and hell bent on world domination as ever, unfortunately. They’re mostly a supermarket here, although they now insist in trying to get a strangle hold over the local petrol station, bakery, liquor store, chemist, butcher, news agent, etc. They also have a variety store concept called Big W, which sounds a lot like the UK version.
If I believe Wikipedia, the Australian and New Zealand Woolworths is totally unrelated to the UK and US other than capitalizing on the name. I’m not sure why but I always assumed that the Woolies we had in NZ was connected to the company in the UK and it was the US that was a separate thing but apparently not. The UK company does have historical links to F.W. Woolworth in the US.