Friday, December 12, 2008

Woolly thoughts

I can't say I did much to save Woolworths, but then there hasn't been one in Oxford city centre since I've lived here, or not so as I can remember anyway. But I'm far from the first to note that it has a special place in the national psyche, and mine is no different -- even though I hate Pick'N'Mix.

Lytham Woolworths: small-ish, surprisingly well stocked and recently closed. The site was purchased by Tesco, which is alarming in itself, but that's for another time. I spent many, many hours in this shop as a teenager, as it was the only local source of music once The Disc Centre became a handbag shop. A girl I once babysat worked in there when she left school -- her name was Johanna. Whenever I bought blank C90s from her she would look right through me (to be fair, I was not very good at babysitting), and I would notice that her name badge said 'Helen' or 'Andrea' or anything female except Johanna. I asked my mother, who knew her mother, about this once, and she said that they were required to wear a name badge, presumably so people could complain (or, I guess, write letters of fulsome praise) about them, but nobody actually said it had to be their own. I rather admired the low-level anarchy of this action.

Cambridge Woolworths: big, central, and featuring, at least in the late 1980s, a formica-tastic cafe on the first floor. I've never admitted this in public before, but I used to hide out in there on my own when I first went to university, so overwhelmed was I by the poshness and unfamiliarity of gowns and drinks parties and teenagers with their own cafetieres. In my first term I would take a book up there and drink milkshakes and eat toasted teacakes and smoke cheap cigarettes and look out the window and wonder if I'd made a terrible mistake. Then I would go back downstairs and buy some blank C90s and get on with it.

I can sort of see why what's happened has happened ... unclear retail proposition, online competition blah blah blah. But I wonder where, in the future, will we be able to buy a hot water bottle, a Tupperware box, some glitter pens, daffodil bulbs and a large box of Dairy Milk all under one comforting roof?



Blogger Monkey Mosaic said...

Amazon? no, wait, ebay! I-Store?

12:54 am  
Blogger Jo said...

Online shopping isn't comforting! It can be efficient and convenient (unless you're out when the parcels arrive) but it's not comforting.

12:13 pm  

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