Wednesday, December 17, 2008

New Shoes from Woolco

It's Christmas season 1966 in this Woolco shoe department. A fairly quiet scene, but maybe the rest of the store was busy. People don’t usually give shoes as gifts anyway, do they? We definitely want to look nice on Christmas Day though, so a new pair of shoes is a must. In this photo, it looks like everyone bought new outfits (including stylish hats) to shop for shoes! (at Woolco.) And you’d probably need bloodhounds to find three salespeople in a shoe department today, but that’s been true for some time.

I particularly like the mirrors below the shoe displays, which allowed customers a curb’s eye view of their prospective new shoes. The wall signage is the early Woolco standard.


  1. Man, this is very, very cool. Woolworths/Woolco was always my favorite department store. Can you imaging having to dust-off all those pairs of shoes every single day.

  2. The signs look familiar, but the shoe department itself is a lot more tasteful than I remember Woolco having in the '70s and early '80s. This is more of a department store style set-up.

  3. I love the shoe department in some of the discount store photos you have provided like this one and the Korevette's and Two Guys Shoe Salons from awhile back. Great stuff, Dave.

    Unfortunately, as much as I loved Woolworth's I never set foot in a Woolco since they came and went before my time. I was only two when the chain shut down entirely.

    Actually I was hoping "someone" would give me some new boots for Christmas. Judging by the contents under the tree, they just don't look big enough to be shoe boxes. I did get some slippers though a couple of years ago. LOL!

  4. I love the pics of the shoe dept. I sold women's shoes for Bloomingdale's about 8 years ago and for the Emporium (San Francisco) back in the 80's early 1990's and love to see how departments looked in years past! All the hours spent displaying shoes, labeling shoes soles and boxes--losing left or right shoes ughhh. But i still loved it! Our stockrooms would go up 20 feet high and we have to use 'shoe sticks' specially made to grab shoe boxes on the top shelves (no ladders!) Thanks again for bringing back memories!

  5. The sheer amount of open space in the shoe department is amazing. This reminds of the shoe department of the old down Dalton, GA Belk-Gallant, gone since 1980 for a mall store. Even the dress of both customers and employees is department store level. I don't recall any Woolco or Woolworth looking this well organized, they always tended to be Zayre-like.

  6. Very cool, it's nice to see a picture of Woolco...ours closed when I was only two years old, so sadly I never really knew it. Thanks again for your wonderful time-capsule of a blog, Dave!

  7. Richard - I can't imagine it. A pretty huge selection, for sure. but with three people working the department, someone probably had the time!

    Steven - I agree, it looks more like a department store shoe dept than that of a discounter. Far more spacious and elegant. The only Woolco I remember shopping in (same era you mention) was nothing like this.

    Didi - Thanks, and I like the shoe departments as well. This is much higher-end than any disocunt store would have today.

    Mr. Bluelight - Sounds it was a lot of work! My brother sold shoes for Carson Pirie Scott in Chicago and in Champaign/Urbana, IL while in college in the mid-80's and he told me stories similar to yours. But he's fond of those memories as well!

    Ken - No question about it, you'd never see that much open space today in virtually any shoe dept, discount or otherwise. I did a lot of work in Dalton in my early career in the late 80's. Which mall are you referring to?

    Kendra - Thanks so much! I have a lot more on Woolco that I hope to post next year.

  8. The photo you showed reminded me of the Woolcos we had here in Canada. As I live now in Laval, Quebec, we are proud to boast we had the second Woolco ever built in the Montreal area (1968) in the "Centre Laval" shopping mall.

    Though now it is a Wal Mart, the original architecture is still the same outside.

    Most of our Woolcos are gone, some demolished (In LaSalle and Kirkland).

    Thanks for the memories !

    (BTW, I'm the Ghost of Steinbergs photo gallery administrator...)

  9. Ghost of Steinberg's - Thanks for the info on the Laval Woolco. I need to provide a link to your photo page, you have really great stuff on there!

  10. If you're willing, I would like whatever information you could give me to narrow down the window of the signage in the picture. I have pictures of my grandmother modeling in a Woolco store in Denver. Unfortunately, no one in my family can recall when it was that she worked there. The signage is the same as in your picture, so I was hoping you might know more about how long they used that style. Thanks!

  11. MyHeartsatHome - Woolco used that signage throughout the 1960's and replaced it around 1970/71, as best I can tell. The Westminster, Colorado Woolco store opened in 1963 and the Aurora store opened two years later. They were the only Woolcos in the area for many years. I'd love to see those pictures!