Tuesday, August 19, 2008

It's The Wonder Of Woolworths

"Troubled retailer Woolworths says it has rejected a bid for its network of 815 stores, calling it "unacceptable". Woolworths confirmed reports that the boss of the Iceland frozen food chain, Malcolm Walker, had made an offer to buy its retail division". BBC 17 August 2008.
The headline popped up on my Google Reader screen as I was putting together a short post in my "Digital Resources" series. And the subject of my posting - The Woolworths Virtual Museum. If you are of a particular age (and I am of a particular age) then FW Woolworths will have a place in your psyche : a place that modern retailers such as TESCO and ASDA could never aspire to. The local Woolworths store was our entry to the consumer society, our aspirational warehouse, our shrine to Mammon. Can we ever forget the feeling of the coins in our sweaty palms as we entered through those swing doors and went in search of "Pick and Mix" sweets, plastic pencil sharpeners, Airfix model kits, or the latest 45 records. There was a certain smell, a certain feel, a certain style about Woolworths which was the same whether you were in Halifax or Hampstead, Leeds or Leicester.
You can recapture some of that "feel" at the wonderful Woolworths Virtual Museum which is my digital resource choice for this week. It provides a digital "peep" inside a variety of British Woolworth stores chosen from the last 100 years. You can wander around the galleries and examine photographs and even video clips : based upon either particular decades or particular groups of products. So, for example, you can stroll through a Stationery Department from the early 1960s (my own particular favourite) or a Homewares Department of the 1920s.

I have not set foot in a Woolworths shop for ages, but I am certain they will be well worth a visit. Their virtual museum certainly is. But if the news reports are right, you better get in there quick.

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