Happy memories of Woolworths

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Clayze

Tenderfoot
Dec 28, 2018
77
27
West Sussex
Now, sorry if this is a little self-indulgent but there is a topic on a different section of the forum that inspired me and I couldn't resist.
Also you might have to be knocking on a bit to remember some of this. Living in London's West End we had three branches close by, two in Oxford Street and one in Marylebone. One of the Oxford Street branches was what one might have called a flagship store. Food hall upstairs, lurid coloured 70's alarm clocks, paperbacks, vinyl, cosmetics, stationery and much, much more all on display at ground level. Venture down to the basement and you could treat yourself to a Ronco bottle cutter, Winfield fishing tackle, Woolies own brand of seeds for the garden and oh yes..a butoneer should you need one, can't remember if that was another Ronco product or K-Tel.
Since my pocket money was never going to allow me to afford ABU of Sweden the fishing tackle was a godsend as were the cheap compilation Top of The Pops albums, they always had a fashionably dressed young lady on the front and all the tracks were covered by session musicians. A seven inch single would set you back 50 new pence.
I could go on but this post was intended as a little trip down memory lane rather than a route march;)
 
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saxonaxe

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Sep 29, 2018
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Ha! Now you have turned the clock back...:D Our local Woolies was a country Woolies with wooden floorboards and the counters set in a big rectangle in the middle of the floor. The sales girls stood behind their respective sections of counter and faced outwards, a bit like Pioneers in a wagon train in a defensive wagon barricade awaiting Indian attack.

There were low glass screens around the counters and some had big weighing machines with stainless scoops on them. These were for the 'Pick 'n' mix' sweets or broken biscuits ( 1/6d a bag )
It was possible to buy Dan Dare space guns which sparked when the trigger was pulled and Cap bombs that were loaded with explosive caps and thrown against a hard surface to explode.

At the far end was a kind of raised dias which was the cash office. Two ladies and a man sat up there behind glass screens., and in the corner below it was a Photo machine with a black curtain round it, Kodak colour photos!! 5 for 2/6d. What next? they'll be going to the Moon I suppose.....:D
 
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oldtimer

Full Member
I don't know about a little trip or a route march, I need a time machine to get to memory lane these days. Clayse, I suspect your memories are of a time when Woolies was already in decline. But then even nostalgia isn't what it used to be when I was young.

In the Woolworth's stores in Portsmouth, where I was brought up, it was possible to buy exactly how many nuts, bolts, screws, buttons, bike parts, fish hooks etc that one needed instead of having to buy a ready packaged set at an inflated price with more than one needed. You didn't have to ask if they sold any particular item, They seemed to sell every thing and it was all laid out logically by counter so as to be easy to find. Helpful assistants bagged your items and took your pennies, threepenny bits or tanners and gave you change if you had to break into a shillling, florin, half-crown or occasionally, after a birthday or Christmas, a ten-shilling note.

SWMBO worked as a shop assistant in Woolies when a student in the 1950's on the biscuit counter where she weighed out biscuits to the customer's requirements. Broken biscuits were sold off cheaply and she recalls deliberately breaking biscuits so she could sell them at cut price to OAPs. and people down on their luck.

We used to buy cheap meals in the cafeteria when we were young and hard-up. We also used to find Woolies an interesting place to pass the time when the weather was bad and spent hours in one somewhere in North Wales during our summer holiday!

For all you young ones, Woolworth's stores were a bit like the Pound Shops, only bigger and cheaper.

Saxonaxe: I'd forgotten about the wooden floors. They were brown and had a distinctive but pleasant smell.
 
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Toddy

Mod
Mod
Jan 21, 2005
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I was a tiny child and I walked long before I was a year old.
My first pairs of hard soled shoes came from Woolworths. Traditional baby shoes started at treble000, and they were too big for me, but Woolworths sold dolls shoes in all sizes, so my Mum and my Aunt put me up on the counter and tried on dolls shoes until they found pairs that fitted me :D

Woolworths sold 'everything' :D

M
 

Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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I bought my first fishing rod in woollies. It was a split cane one and not very expensive . When I look in my local fishing shop nowadays these cost a small fortune second hand. RIP woolworths.
 
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Macaroon

A bemused & bewildered
Jan 5, 2013
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SE Wales
Antimaccassers
Biscuits
Combs
Doll's shoes (see above :) )
Elastic
Fuses
Glue
Hand cream
Indian ink
Jellybabies
Knitting needles
Light bulbs
Matches
Needles
Oil
Pictures
Q
Rulers
Sticky tape
Toilet brushes
Undercoat
Varnish
Window cleaner
X
Yard brushes
Zulu grate polish

All that in as long as it took to type it; something for every situation and all you'd need to run a house (back then).

An Emporium in the best sense of the word, was Woolies, nowhere even remotely like it nowadays.
 

Macaroon

A bemused & bewildered
Jan 5, 2013
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Well done, I knew the items would be there somewhere but I just wanted to see how many I could write out without any pondering :)
 

Woody girl

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I got my first sleeping bag from woolworths. A terrible maroon nylon job. I still have it.! Why, I don't know, but I can't throw it out. Too many memories in that bag.
 
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gonzo_the_great

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Nov 17, 2014
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Poole, Dorset. UK
I was there for the last hours of our local store, which I remembered from childhood.
I was back at the home town, visiting the folks, and happened to pop in to woolies to see what was marked down in the clearance.
I was going through the kids school clothes, trying to find stuff of my daughters size, when the staff went about handing out carrier bags, and the tannoy announced that it was £3 per bag. They really were clearing the place.
So I just started stuffing clothes in a bag. Got plenty for my own, plus a few years worth in advance. And gave loads away to friends.

They even started selling off the shelving, and some lads were loading it into the back of a transit. Before the manager came running and stopping them.

It was fun, but a sad end. I felt like a vulture.
 

GuestD

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Feb 10, 2019
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The "Woolies" in Fort William used to have a proper camping section, well stocked too.
 

Woody girl

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Mar 31, 2018
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Airfix Models , glue , paint and brushes for a wet Saturday afternoon
Gosh airfield kits! I built a whole fleet of ships. I loved building leader class frigates. I should have been a boy!just been trying to remember all their names . Leander apollo ajax... I've forgotten the rest. There were eight of them.
 
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saxonaxe

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Sep 29, 2018
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It's strange how just one thing or event becomes a focal point of memories, mention the Morecombe and Wise Show and people instantly remember, " Ah! Mr Preview" or the pop up toaster/ musical breakfast skit Eric and Ernie performed.
It's the same with Woolies for me. I paid off a ship in Prince's Dock Glasgow and with two weeks leave and no home to go to, I decided to go camping and sign back on the same ship again when she was ready to go to sea and needed crew.

Up the town to Woolies. Cheap nylon tent, sleeping bag and some pans and off I went. Caught a bus and then scrounged a lift and ended up near a place called Aberfoyle. Walked for a couple of hours, found a spot in the woods and put the tent up...Great... 'till evening when I was introduced to the delights of the Scottish Midge...
Drove me mad, so I decided to retreat into the tent which had also acquired a small Midge population. No problem, smoke 'em out!! So I took a smouldering stick from the fire held it in the tent and closed the zip doorway and waited a minute or two.
That's fixed them I thought, undid the zip and leaving the tent full of smoke threw the stick back into the fire and quickly zipped the tent closed..

That's funny I thought, that stick looks shorter than the one I held in the tent. The end had fallen off in the tent...that's why I can see a dull glow of flames inside...Cheap Woolies tent zip...stuck fast. I watched as the sleeping bag burned and the nylon tent melted like a dissolving thing from outer space. Making sure that the coagulated blue and red ( tent and sleeping bag) mess was no longer hot, I buried it and began the long trudge back to civilisation, which in this case was a wooden bus shelter.

Oh! Good, there is a bus at 9.30 tomorrow morning!!!.... I spent the night on a wooden slatted seat, head wrapped in a spare shirt listening to the whine of attacking Midges as they found gaps in my defences.
The learning curve is still steep at 17 years of age but now 58 year later when someone mentions Woolies I think of broken biscuits, melting tents and Midges...:D :D
 

Clayze

Tenderfoot
Dec 28, 2018
77
27
West Sussex
Gosh airfield kits! I built a whole fleet of ships. I loved building leader class frigates. I should have been a boy!just been trying to remember all their names . Leander apollo ajax... I've forgotten the rest. There were eight of them.
I remember the most challenging thing about Airfix kits was applying the incredibly fragile transfers. After soaking roundels etc in a saucer of warm water you had one chance to locate them in the correct place without tearing them.

Woolworths occasionally stocked the Aurora range of horror models, Dracula, The Mummy, all the usual suspects. They came with two heads, one standard and one glow in the dark. Just before bed time you would charge up the latter with your Woolies torch, doze off and endure terrible nightmares.
I bet anyone lucky enough to stumble upon one of those kits intact in it's original box could make a few quid.
 

Tengu

Full Member
Jan 10, 2006
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Wiltshire
Pic and mix.

As opposed to a quarter out of a glass jar

But pretty much everywhere does pic and mix these days.
 

Clayze

Tenderfoot
Dec 28, 2018
77
27
West Sussex
Doesn't Wilkinsons now fill the gap left by Woolworths?
It even has a pick-n-mix rack.
I miss the selection of reading material. There will never again I suspect be such a selection of cheap and sometimes lurid paperbacks in one store.
The Pan series of horror stories spring to mind. Loved them when I was a kid although probably a bit brutal for my tastes these days.