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Saturday, 29 November 2008

On Woolworths

This old brand is in administration. It has hundreds of shops around Britain and thousands of employees. Like me, you probably haven't been there in a while. That's why it's in administration. I have good memories of Woolworths. I remember going in there on a cold Saturday following some family member around town, and having the excitement of choosing pick-and-mix sweets from their huge selection. On another occasion I remember wandering aimlessly around town with some friends and going into Woolworths to press all the buttons on the electric toys, so that gun noises, sheep noises and electric boings rang out round the store.

But nowadays it really is in a mess. I don't know whether it was better in the past or whether I am just nostalgic about the past. I went in there today, determined to help out that old friend by buying something and pumping some money into the organisation. But there was nothing I wanted to buy. There is a panel of music CDs with generic titles like "Spanish Music", "Zen" and "Calming Sea Sounds". There are about three different power packs for Wii controllers. There are action toys for Harry Potter (that's getting pretty old now surely). Whoever chooses the stock for the shop has a quirky sense of humour. Somehow, they had managed to buy about fifty cuddly Pingu toys, each the size of a five-year old child, and placed them all round the store. Without price labels. It's an idea that might have caught people's imaginations, but if you don't tell them how much it costs, they definitely won't buy it. It's not that difficult. In the end I walked out with six teaspoons and a pack of After Eights, pleased that I had done my duty and spent some money.

I don't know whether I'm happy that it is closing, and there are certain endearing features, like pick-and-mix. And it's one of the few shops where you never know what they will have in store that day. But it's clearly a bit shite. If it doesn't modernise and fill itself with things that someone actually wants, then it will close forever, causing the next wave of unemployment in this country.

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