I find it a great shame that Woolworths has gone into receivership. I am probably partly to blame because I can't honestly remember the last time I bought anything there. Of late, I have found Woolworths stores to be a bit like glorified rummage (or jumble) sales. That may sound a tad unkind, and I suppose it is. I think over the decades Woolworth lost its way. Whereas other stores evolved and changed with the times (remember when Dixons was a photographic shop?), Woolworths just carried on in the same old way and got swamped by the competition. How often do you find yourself thinking “Wow, I simply must go to Woolworths and see what's new”. No, you don't. When I think of Woolworths now I think of Pick and Mix and CDs I can buy for cheaper elsewhere. It wasn't always like that.
When I was a toddler in a pushchair, there was a gap in the row of shops at the local shopping centre. The gap comprised of a small grassed area, which I suppose was a field!!! One day, builders arrived and worked on it. A few months later, our brand spanking new Woolworths was finished and there was great excitement in the town while we waited for the first day of opening. There was no self-service then, but lots of counters with uniformed girls behind them waiting to serve you.
Amongst my school mates, Woolworths became the shop of choice for nicking things. I never stooped to this low level myself, but did get thrown out one day for letting off a stink bomb near the toy counter. Talking of bombs, cap bombs were another favourite item I would buy in Woolworths.
The toy counter was, to me, a joy to behold. One of my favourite toys at the time, was a red plastic rubber band powered aircraft kit. They never seemed to last long though; I was always crashing them. I remember the counter right at the end of the shop which was full of different types of torches and every kind of battery. Batteries at the time, didn't last long, and we were always warming them by the fire to squeeze an extra bit of life out of them. No trip to the shops was complete without popping into Woolies.
Today, if I go to Woolworths, it is only when I am at a very loose end that I go in to take a look. The shop today, is a bit of an anachronism, an institution from the past which seems a little out of place and somewhat quaint on the modern high street. Even so, if it disappears, I guess I shall miss it because it is one more link with my youth vanishing into oblivion.
Renée C. Byer on the Art of Photojournalism - All photos copyright of Renee C. Byer and The Sacramento Bee I wanted to share this interview with you. Award-winning American documentary photojournali...
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