No more pic’n’mix

Everyday we hear that the credit crunch has claimed another seemingly unsuspecting victim. Banks are being bailed out by the government and thousands of people are losing their jobs.

This month Woolworths closed its doors for the last time, leaving nothing more than the childhood memories of filling a little paper bag with as many sweets as your pocket money could buy.

As Woolies final days approached, walking into one of the eerily empty stores – empty of stock you understand, not of people – was bizarrely, a somewhat mournful experience. Everything and anything from DVDs, fittings and industrial sized toilet rolls were for sale in the final days of Woolies existance. Even uniforms appeared for auction on ebay.

For me, losing Woolies was like losing a dear close friend. 99 years old, Woolworths’ comforting red presence has been there throughout my life, providing cheap CDs, much needed sugary sustenance, childish games, a wealth of magazines and reasonably priced coffee mugs.

I would regularly wander into my local store, aged 11, armed with 50ps and ready to stock up on a ludicrous amount of pic’n’mix before sneaking it into the cinema.

Later, I wasted many a teenage Saturday afternoon browsing Woolies’ sea of cassettes and CDs or developing my magazine tastes, flicking through Sugar, J17 and NME before parting with my pennies and going home to play my latest purchase loudly while reading whatever magazine I had finally decided on.

When I moved into my own place at university, Woolies came to my rescue with its array of utensils, furnishings and mugs at reasonable prices.

And you could always rely on her to cater for every stationery need too. Woolies was your reliable friend, having everything you could possibly want, all under one roof, whenever you needed it.

But gradually we grew apart and our friendship with Woolies became a mere acquaintance. She became the friend we still liked but only called upon when we happened to be nearby. She’d give us a comforting respite down memory lane, always offering as much pic’n’mix as you could carry but she couldn’t compete with the Supermarkets who began to offer us all Woolworths did and groceries too. Combined with a music and film industry locked in a digital download age, poor old Woolies couldn’t keep up.

Despite ad campaigns fronted by a dog and a sheep and reinventions as THE BIG W, Woolies has had to pay the price. As her doors closed for the final time, people paid their last visits, mournful of the friend they had lost but unable to help her in these troubled times. She had been through two world wars but in the end, her demise was a crippled economy and a technological revolution.

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