Featured in the group ‘End Times.’ Many thanks to those involved in featuring my work.
In Pennsylvania in 1879 Frank Woolworth, a former shop assistant, opened his first shop. It traded under the name FW Woolworths. He soon turned it into a chain of shops selling everything for 5 or 10 cents. Believing that success under this business model could be replicated in Britian, he opened his first shops in 1909 in Britain. Selling everything at three and sixpence (1.25 and 2.5 pence) their shelves were stripped bare on the first day of opening.
Woolworths quickly spread across the Britain and at its peak in April 2008 it had 819 shops in the country. In 1982 the British shops came under British ownership when they were acquired by Paternoster Stores (later Kingfisher Plc). It was affectionately known to many as ‘Woolies’ and it became a landmark in the average high street or town centre. It became part of the average British childhood experience across several generations focussing as it did on sweets and toys. I have fond memories of trips to ‘Woolies’ with my Mum and brother as a child that would normally include a cake and a drink in the cafe.
The shops began to struggle as the big UK supermarket chains began competing directly with them as they expanded thei product range. The chain split from Kingfisher Plc, becoming the Woolworths group. On 26th November, the group entered administration. Despite massive discounting both before and after Christmas, the final 200 shops closed permanently on 6th January, 2009. Many of the massive retail units remain empty, like this one in Worcester, leaving a massive gap in High Street’s up and down the country.