Monday, July 20, 2009

One Small Step For Woolco

By the end of the 1960’s, Woolco had finally picked up the pace of new store openings, with 33 stores opening in 1969 alone - adding up to 92 Woolco stores in the United States and 33 in Canada at the close of the decade. A few more multiple store markets, so critical for market presence and maximizing advertising dollars, were now part of the mix, including Atlanta and Houston (3 stores each), Indianapolis and Jacksonville, Florida (2 stores each). An even more ambitious program was put in place for 1970 and 1971, with 70 new stores slated, including additional units in Houston, Atlanta, Richmond and Toronto, and multiple stores in new markets Toledo, Miami and Sacramento, the first appearance of the Woolco name in California. Also, Woolco’s first (and only, for a while) store in the New England states would open in Bangor, Maine in 1970.

In 1971, F.W. Woolworth Co., Woolco’s parent company, made the somewhat surprising decision (to me, at least) to eliminate Woolco’s separate division status and consolidate the Woolco operation into the Woolworth variety store regional management structure. While this may have made sense on paper, I can’t help but ponder the psychological effect on Woolco managers – did it lessen their drive, knowing their operation was “lumped in” with the variety store operation, which despite Woolworth’s leadership position was by now widely considered be an antiquated retail concept? Within a few years, the shift in status would even be noticeable on Woolco’s shopping bags, of all things. By the mid-70’s, the bags sported both Woolworth and Woolco logos, with Woolco’s new stylized logo in the subordinate position. Multitudes of products were advertised on TV as being available “at Woolworth and Woolco stores”, in that order. Again, the comparison with S.S. Kresge couldn’t have been more striking, with the near totality of that company’s resources being invested in Kmart, to stunning results. And even Woolworth’s other longtime dime store competitors had jumped in by now – G.C. Murphy with its growing line of Murphy’s Marts and W.T. Grant Company’s 1972 vow to open only large “Grant City” department stores henceforth (sadly, it wouldn’t be enough to save Grants, but more later on that).

Another factor that would take on much more significance as the decade of the 70’s rolled on was Woolworth’s burgeoning specialty store business. In 1962, the Federal Trade Commission invalidated the six year old merger between Brown Shoe Company and the New York City–based G.R. Kinney Corporation (Kinney Shoes), the largest shoe store chain in America at the time, and the following year it was acquired by Woolworth. At the time, Kinney had 584 stores in a mix of locations – some downtown, but a large number in the all-important shopping centers and free-standing “roadside” sites in high-traffic areas. By 1971, as Kinney Shoe Corporation, a wholly-owned Woolworth subsidiary, the chain had grown to over 900 locations, with many of the new ones in enclosed shopping malls. Two successful nameplates (among a few less than successful ones) that were launched under the Kinney umbrella were Susie’s Casuals (1968), a fixture of 70’s-era malls, and Foot Locker (1974), which would be the eventual successor to the entire Woolworth organization. In 1968, Woolworth acquired Cleveland-based Richman Brothers, a 245-store men’s apparel chain. In line with a common practice of the day, both the Kinney and Richman operations had in-house manufacturing capacity, which allowed a higher degree of control over styles, manufacturing quality and pricing. Richman also operated men’s stores under two main banners (Woolworth would add a third called “Adams-Row”) beside its own – Stein Stores, a chain of southern apparel stores that it had acquired in 1959, and Anderson-Little, a Fall River, Massachusetts-based chain bought in 1966. My grandparents hauled my brother and me off to Anderson-Little at least once a year on our summer visits there, usually the Walnut Hill Plaza store in Woonsocket, RI or the one at the Auburn (Mass.) Mall. When I was fourteen, they bought us leisure suits there - brown for my brother, and a startling powder blue for mine. I’ve never been so anxious for a growth spurt in my life. Unfortunately, that suit was followed up with a forest green one (with a vest!) from JC Penney.

It would eventually become clear to most observers where Woolworth’s corporate priorities stood, and Woolco was not atop the list, nor was it in second place. As a Business Week article would later put it, “The (Woolco) discount unit slipped as specialty retailing got the principal attention”. The opportunity to profit from the immense volume the Woolco stores could have produced with a stronger effort, potentially multiples of what a successful chain of shoe stores or menswear shops would ever yield, was slowly allowed to slip away.

Nevertheless, at the beginning of the seventies, the arrival of a new Woolco store was happy event for any community they entered, with sizable crowds and the type of Grand Opening hoopla joyfully described on this site time and time again. Woolco’s slogan at the time was “a new fashion in modern retailing”, and the emphasis continued to be on apparel, which in light of the sister businesses described above isn’t surprising.

The photos above are circa 1968-70. The first one is a night exterior view of the Northtowne Plaza Woolco in Claymont (Wilmington), Delaware, which opened in 1968, followed by a daytime exterior of an unknown location (possibly the Town and Country Shopping Center Woolco in Marietta, Georgia, thanks to J.T. for mentioning that possibility) on its 1969 opening day, complete with a crowd, outdoor sale items, pennant streamers, a Wise Potato Chips truck, and a parking lot full of iron and not much plastic. The majority of the other shots depict the Asbury Park, New Jersey store (sorry, no Springsteen sightings) at its grand opening in 1970, including the main aisle crowd shots, the cosmetics department, the “Sweater Shack”, the (definitely analog) watch display, and the final photo, a peek under the “cheerful red-striped awning” of the Red Grille cafeteria. Five of the photos – the wide view of the front of the store, the checkout line (from those proud days when Woolco had “exclusive” shopping bags), "Miss Credit" (these people were big on beauty queens, weren't they?), the auto center view and the “University Shop” shirt section are of unknown locations.


  1. The pine trees on the back of the second shot and the smaller size made me think that was actually the Marietta, GA store. From that angle it looks just like it. The street next to that one in Marietta is still called "Woolco Drive" to this day even though it has been a Burlington Coat Factory for years.

  2. GREAT pics, Dave I know Woolco entered the Tampa Bay area at some point with 2 stores in Tampa & 2 in the St. Pete area. One of these builings still stands as a Kmart now. Thre were also 2 other stores nearby in Tarpon Springs & Port Richey.

  3. The move into specialty stores ultimately kept the company going, although they ran Richman Brothers into the ground by lowering quality standards. Adam's Row was youth oriented. They also experimented with "The Gear Box" as a youth oriented in-store specialty operation at Richman's.

    The regional consolidation sounds like a poor decision, although by that time, the larger, often mall-based Woolworth stores were probably more like Woolco than like neighborhood dime stores adn the operations blended together more than one might expect. I don't know what Kresge did organizationally, but their price tags and house brand merchandise came to sport KMart, Kresge, & Jupiter logos by the mid-70s.

  4. The pictures are becoming more and more like I remembered Woolco. Stores used to be so crowded back in the day. You don't see that as much anymore outside of the big discounters.

    I think you're right in saying that Woolworth should have put its money behind Woolco stronger, even if it meant diluting the Woolworth stores role in the company.

    On paper combining Woolworth and Woolco looked like a way to leverage the strengths of each, but the reality was that it exposed the weaknesses. The discount stores were downgraded while the variety stores went a little too upscale.

    Woolco started a sales freefall in the late '70s that killed off the US division, while Woolworth lost touch with its core market at never modernized beyond those 1980s Woolco-esque remodels.

  5. Great post, Dave! And thanks for the Chicagoland Woolco info from your previous post.

    I have to ask--are you going to post any pics of that beautiful blue leisure suit? LOL!

  6. When I was fourteen, they bought us leisure suits there - brown for my brother, and a startling powder blue for mine. I’ve never been so anxious for a growth spurt in my life. Unfortunately, that suit was followed up with a forest green one (with a vest!) from JC Penney.

    Oh, this cracked me up, Dave! But ya gott admit forest green is way better than powder blue. Well, green's my favorite color so I must be biased.

    My mother used to work for a factory in Ohio that made clothes for Richman Brothers. Something about sewing the inside pockers. She was very fond of them even long after she left that job. As a child everytime she saw a Richman Brothers in a mall she always beamed. Didin't Woolworth eventually sell the operation to someone else?

  7. Among the 33 stores opened by Woolco in 1969 were the ones in Holmes, PA and Claymont, DE. The one at MacDade Mall in Holmes is now a Kmart. The one in Claymont went on to become Jamesway's flagship store, and was later gutted for The Home Depot.

  8. J.T. - You got me thinking on this, so I checked and found out I made a mistake on the caption of the second photo - confused it with another one I have that is from the Speedway,Indiana store. In fact, I don't know which store the second photo shows.

    And I wondered about the Wise Potato Chips truck - weren't those predominantly sold in the eastern states?

    Woolco had two basic exterior prototypes, the "full size" and "compact" versions, which all looked similar, but it could well be the Marietta store which also opened in '69, the year of the photo. I'm well familiar with that store, as my grandparents on my Mom's side lived a couple of miles away in Kennesaw for 40 years. I saw it a couple of years ago, and even though it's a Burlington Coat Factory, it still definitely has the Woolco look. Thanks very much!

    Dwayne - Thanks! I think the first Tampa/St. Pete store opened in 1970/71 at the Seminole Shopping Center.

    Anonymous - I should have mentioned "The Gear Box", an in-store concept, as you say.

    If I remember correctly, all Kresge divisions used the same "SSK" logo price tags with the department key number, right?

    Steven - I totally agree with your point about their downgrading the discount stores while upgrading the variety stores too much.
    The 1970's saw some of the most elegant, upscale Woolworth stores ever, while at the same time variety store format was becoming lees relevant each year.

    Kim - Thanks! And I know my folks have some pictures of me in that suit (and a wild-pattern dark blue "Qiana" shirt) somewhere. I'd like to see 'em myself. As for putting them on the website, well...

    Didi - The Green Penney's suit was well made, I'll give it that. I'm not sure the color would work today, except at a retro 70's prom or for a groomsman for a wedding couple with questionable taste.

    I read that Woolworth's closed down the Richman chain around 1992.

    Anonymous - The first store pictured is the Claymont location. Thanks for that info!

    1. I am super late to this party, but I can confirm that the second picture is of the Marietta, GA store. First, that variety of pine tree can only be found in the red-clay piedmont region. But the big giveaway is in the far back left side of the pic - the western, gradual slope of Blackjack Mountain. Stores and trees may change (albeit not much since this pic), but mountains do not.

  9. Wise was/is based in Pennsylvania. Borden bought them in the 60s and extended their range. They were common in parts of the Great Lakes region, but I don't remember them in New England. The snack business was very local then--Jay's in Chicago, Dan Dee in Cleveland, etc.

  10. If there's one thing I miss more than the old stores, it would be the snack bars/cafes that you could find in so many of them. I hate going into Sears and not being able to smell popcorn and roasting nuts, and choose a nice variety of Brach's candies to take home. (MMM, chocolate stars!) The K-Mart in Streetsboro, OH recently had the snack bar ripped out hastily, and it nearly broke my heart. (The thing at IKEA doesn't count, either, though I do love those Swedish meatballs.)

  11. Dave, That 1st store in the Seminole Mall is the one that is now Kmart! It still looks very much like these Woolco's in this post. I was more used to the one in Hamilton Ohio that looked just like the 1st stores in Columbus Ohio. One thing did not change outside, the Woolco driveway that leads to the front door. The stores always had a drive that lead straight down to the doors with parking areas on both sides of the drive.

  12. Anonymous: I don't know what Kresge did organizationally, but their price tags and house brand merchandise came to sport KMart, Kresge, & Jupiter logos by the mid-70s.

    Kmart price tags had the "SSK" Logo along with a Department Key (e.g. "SSK Key - 9"). Cash register tapes said "Kmart - Kresge - Jupiter".

    Dwayne: One thing did not change outside, the Woolco driveway that leads to the front door. The stores always had a drive that lead straight down to the doors with parking areas on both sides of the drive.

    Art over practicality. That dramatic drive created an awkward front area and forced people to park further from the doors than necessary.

  13. Anonymous - Thanks. It is amazing how so many regional or local food companies have disappeared to give way to national brands. In my own native Chicago, several once well-loved snack brands have bitten the dust recently, or now exist in name only and are manufactured out of state. Jays Potato Chips, Maurice Lenell cookies and Salerno cookies come to mind. A sad trend, to be sure.

    Adrienne - I miss them too, especially the one at Sears, where you could smell it through half the store. It's a shame Kmart couldn't find a creative way to make the snack bar fly. By all rights, it should have played right into today's convenience culture.

    Dwayne - Thanks - it is interesting how similar the first and second generation Woolcos really were, save for the tower sign. The "driveway" is a pretty unique idea!

    Danny - I remembered the Kresge price tags but not the receipt format.

    I'm not sure that the extra parking space was needed at Woolco as time went on, unfortunately!

  14. The auto center photo is interesting. Why would they have cases of toilet paper stacked next to the bench where the lady customer and her dog are waiting?

  15. Dave: I remembered the Kresge price tags but not the receipt format.

    Not at the main checkouts, but if you remember the specialty departments like photo and electronics had NCR cash registers of the style shown in the picture below. As kind of a design freak even in those days, I LOVED how those 1970's-style NCR registers looked and sounded. The small once had such a sweet sound as they churned through the numbers; the larger ones at the checkouts had a crisper sound. (Sears also used to have Star Trek-like Singer/Friden registers). Can you love a cash register? Anyway, it was the smaller specialty department registers that spit out receipts that said KMART-KRESGE-JUPITER.

    The small NCR register:

    The large version Kmart used to use:

    Incidentally, the last picture came from a cool string of pictures on Flickr of a shuttered Eagle Supermarket in Cleveland.

  16. "Also, Woolco’s first (and only, for a while) store in the New England states would open in Bangor, Maine in 1970."

    And it still exists today, parceled into Ocean State Job Lot, Dollar Tree and Marshalls after a lengthy stint as Rich's discount department store from the mid-80's to the mid-90s, and Ames for a while after that (when it moved across town from the former Zayre location on Broadway).

    It presumably bears little resemblance to the Woolco that once was (I've seen advertising prints of the Bangor store but never an actual proper photo of it -- in fact, I've never been able to scrounge up a photo from the Rich's era, either), but the building itself still remains, even if its history is long forgotten by most folks.

    I myself likely never set *foot* in the Bangor Woolco...after all, the chain shuttered in 1982 or 1983, if memory serves, and I may well have still been in a stroller at that time. So, wheels, yes. Feet, no. Oh, to have a time machine...

  17. Also, that second photo, the one we think may be Georgia...well, it is the spitting image of what I expect the Bangor store looked like. Could it be? I don't know...

    Here's a photo of that portion of the plaza currently:

    And here's a Google Maps satellite image of the building:,-95.677068&sspn=34.313287,52.207031&ie=UTF8&ll=44.819678,-68.810227&spn=0.001781,0.003186&t=h&z=18

    The building in the center of the photo is the former Woolco, to the left is the rest of the Airport Mall. Presumably, the wooded area behind the mall used to be considerably more built up, as both developments immediately behind it came along much later than the Airport Mall.

    From the Bangor Daily News, 1993:

    The year was 1970. Merle Goff was city manager in Bangor. Robert Brandow finished his first year at Eastern Maine Medical Center. Stephen King graduated from the University of Maine.

    And at the unfinished Airport Mall, Paul Flanagan and James Mooney started to work at a new Standard Shoe store.

    The Union Street shopping center reportedly was Maine's first enclosed mall. Construction began in August 1968, and the mall was supposed to open April 15, 1970.

    Standard Shoe was ready. Unfortunately, the rest of the shopping center wasn't.

    "Only the anchor stores -- Woolco and Freese's -- were open," recalled Flanagan. "There were dirt floors in the halls. People came into our store on a wooden sidewalk."

    If only that photo was centered a little farther to the left, I could tell for certain, but alas...

  18. Greg - The thing I like about the these photos is they don't seem to be "staged" at all, unlike many of the ones I've seen. My guess is the those toilet paper cases were probably for the store's own restrooms instead of store stock, and were simply stored there. I'm pretty sure I've seen that kind of thing in the past.

    Dan - I totally agree, those early electronic registers were very cool. My dad's next door neighbor is restores old cash registers for a living, and most of those on display in NCR's own museum are his work. I'll have to ask him next time I'm in Chicago if he ever works on anything from the 60's/70's era. Most of the ones I've seen in his shop are the ornate early 20th century marble and brass jobs.

    How old is that Kmart scene? It looks like its been abandoned for years!

    Kendra - I'd love that time machine myself! I guess pictures are the next best thing. Because of the opening date, I would assume the Bangor Woolco looked a lot like the ones pictured here. Woolcos never seemed to vary that much in design from location to location.

    I visited the Ocean State Job Lot near my grandparents old stomping grounds, and really liked it. Seemed like an interesting mix of stuff, moreso than the few Big Lots stores I've been to.

    Interesting how that store later became an Ames as well, and now houses(in part)a Dollar Tree,just like the ex-University Mall Ames that originally opened as the area's second Mammoth Mart.

  19. Kendra - I posted my comment before I saw your second comment. Now I'm really curious! Hopefully we'll be able to solve this mystery. (Not at all sure how, though!)

  20. Dave: How old is that Kmart scene? It looks like its been abandoned for years!

    I didn't really word that very well. I meant to say that the cash register in that scene was the kind that Kmart used to have at its front end check-outs. Lots of places (Ontario, Big Bear) used to have those registers. I believe it was the last mechanical series before they started going to electronic registers.

    That particular scene is of an abandoned Eagle Supermarket in Cleveland. There are a couple dozen pictures on Flickr that are way cool, with coolers and gondola shelving still largely intact.

  21. Danny - You had it on there, I just didn't catch it. I don't know of "Faygo" brands are still around, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer looks like an older front page design than I remember, although I'm far from an expert on that - I've just been to lots of airport terminal newsstands over the last few years.

    Kendra - I just now have a chance to write after taking a closer look earlier today at what you sent in your most recent comment. It sure looks like it could be the Bangor location. You're right, if the camera was panned a bit to the left, we'd probably be able to tell for sure! I especially liked the newspaper quote. Thanks for putting all of that together!

  22. Dave: Oh, yeah! Faygo is alive and well! Detroit's favorite drink!

  23. You used to be able to get Faygo at Dollar Tree but they changed the brand not that long ago.

  24. HA HA!!! this is the best blog i've ever seen. My associate and i searching for info about PARKINGTON, "a one-stop shopping center where you can fill all your family's needs at your leisure". it was a 1950s mall in Arlington, Virginia. in the 80s it was destroyed and replaced by a hideous new mall called Ballston Common.

    i plan soon to transfer my 1984 super-8 movie of the nearly abandoned Parkington. until then, you can check out my friend's 'prequel' movie, cited on my blog here:

    also, his blog has some great pics of the abandoned GC MURPHY bldg:

    thanks for caring about this weirdness.

  25. OMG I remember that Woolco in Claymont DE! When I was little back in 1975-1977, we used to live nearby, so we shopped there every so often. I remember the furniture department in the back of the store - I think they sold vinyl sectional sofas. I also remember the pet department (hamsters & goldfish) and the flimsy curtained dressing rooms in the ladies department, when my mom tried on a dress. My best memory is my mom finally giving into my whines about buying me some inflatable Barbie furniture. Good times!

  26. Hi there--

    I stumbled onto your blog accidentally while doing some research on the 60s. Have not read a lot of it yet, but I will.

    Just wanted to say THANKS! So far, it's incredible.

  27. wow...the pics of the Asbury Park, NJ Woolco...I can almost say for certain my paternal grandma and her mother showed up in one picture. I was looking, and thinking "no, what would my grandmother be doing in Georgia!"...til I read further down and you mentioned the inside pictures were from Asbury Park.

    Woolco is just before my time, since I was born in 78. I do recall an amazing JJ NewBerry 5 and 10 in Asbury Park however. 2 floors! It was wonderful.

  28. If I had a time machine, I would set the destination time and place to these exact photos, crawl inside, activate the machine, then emerge into these stores in this era and destroy the machine.

    The only place better would be a Zayre.

  29. Dan – Interesting to know that –thanks.

    Didi – The last Dollar Tree I was in had Shasta sodas, the famous California brand. In the early 70’s they marketed heavily in the Chicago area, but seemed to fade away after that.

    Otto – Thanks very much! I’d heard about Parkington not long ago. Arlington and the entire DC area has a rich retail history. I look forward to seeing your film when you get it online! And that G.C. Murphy building is too cool!

    Jen – Glad that it brought back some memories for you! Vinyl sectionals – ah, the 70’s! And you make a good point, never underestimate the power of whining! :) Thanks!

    Carol – Thanks so much! Looking forward to your visiting here some more!

    Mandy – How cool is that! I believe these pics were taken on the store’s opening or very close to it. Woolco was still around in ’78, but they wouldn’t be for much longer.

    Heather – I couldn’t have put it better myself. Oh the stores I would visit – it boggles the mind! (There was probably a Zayre nearby many of these, too.) Thanks for stopping by!

  30. Didi – The last Dollar Tree I was in had Shasta sodas, the famous California brand. In the early 70’s they marketed heavily in the Chicago area, but seemed to fade away after that.

    Yes, I noticed the Shasta too. It just so happens I was there today (Dollar Tree is great for last minute, cheapy stuff!) and saw the Shasta. Before this and not that long ago, they sold Faygo for about as long as I have been hanging out there. They switched very recently and I haven't seen Faygo there in a few months. Not sure why.

  31. I can tell you firsthand what killed Woolco. My father was a Woolco manager in Carlisle,PA Ocean Township, NJ, and East Brunswick, NJ.

    Woolco was killed off because they began hiring sub-standard management. Their initial team of highly-trained professionals was replaced by inexperienced college-graduates with no track-record.
    The company moved to a "90-day wonder" type of training process, rather than the years-long program required of the original managers. This happend to many companies in the 70's and 80's.

    1. I agree with you on the management tng program. I was in it and worked as an asst. store opener. Worked in Montgomery AL, Buford/Clarmont S/C Atlanta GA, Raeford Rd, Fayetteville NC, Somewhere in Ft Worth TX, Austin TX, Youngstown OH, Lafayette IN, Huntsville AL, and Greensprings Hwy, Bham AL,, and several other stores to fill in when store needed help. Long time ago. Still remember store managers, dist managers, VPs, some cashiers, we couldnt date employees, and I was single and in early 20s, yea,, right.
      Joe Davis

  32. Thomas – That’s a great point, thanks for bringing that up. Management training used to take many years, with individuals moved up into positions of increased responsibility over a rather long time. This is rarely the case today.

    I’ll bet Woolco was fun place to work in the early years!

    1. Woolco was fun and also really hard work in the '60s and early '70s when I trained for management. The atmosphere really changed in October '71 when Woolworth took over and their management began changing how things were done. Our selection of merchandise and vendors was reduced and we were forced to buy quite a bit more inventory from the Woolworth warehouse in Chicago which was shipped to stores in Texas and Oklahoma, taking two to three weeks to arrive.

  33. I'm from north central PA. Wise potato chips are made about 30 minutes from here. Most people outside of the PA/NY/NJ area have never heard of them, which leads me to believe this might be a PA store. The last thing that makes me think that is the fact that none of the cars have front license plates on the cars. PA doesn't require them. I'm not sure about other states - especially back then - but I know we don't have front plates. I may not be right - just a guess - but it makes sense.

  34. As a management trainee I can vouch for some of the comments regarding poor managementlater in Woolco's run.

    I was hired in 1978 and enrolled in 3 years of strict training.

    I was called an Assistant Division Manager. After the 3 years of training you might "make" Division Manager.

    Division Manager's opened and closed the stores...there were usually 2 or 3 depending on the size of the store.

    Other Management postiions in the store were Asssitant General Manager ( AGM ) and General Manager ( GM )

    I believe this model went out the window in the early 80's.

  35. I never stepped foot in a Woolco store; I only heard them mentioned in Woolworth's adds on TV. But I remember Woolworth's fondly as sort of a "place that time forgot". The best example of this was around 1974, when I ran into a table in the back of the store featuring AM clock radios for $19.95 . Nothing too strange about that, though the price was a little steep for an AM-only radio at the time. But these things, made in Taiwan or Hong Kong, featured analog clocks and the 5 standard "AA5" tubes! I still wonder in which decade these radios were made; one thing they had in their favor was a 4" speaker that probably delivered better sound than the 2"-3" squeakers that had by that time become standard for anything in that price range. I'm also forever grateful to Woolworth's (who were known for their comprehensive small-pet supplies) for my goldfish, which lasted from 1977 to 1988 and grew to about 13"! I can see why most shoppers shunned Woolworth's for most things, but I still miss them in a strange way. For a different side of the Woolworth's story take a look at
    for an account of the fire that accelerated the decline of Woolworth's in the UK (they were a partialy-owned subsidiary). Also, for an interesting perspective on the relationship between the two organizations, see
    retailing was a rough business, even back then! If you keep surfing that site, you'll also find some great stories and scenes from Woolworth's on that side of the Atlantic.

    1. Thanks for sharing those great Woolworth's memories with us! And wow, that's the longest surviving goldfish I've ever heard of! (Mine typically lasted two weeks.)

      Woolworth in the UK was a quite dfferent animal then their US cousin, but very interesting as well. And yes, they did have Woolco for short time.

  36. Woolco's first store in St. Petersburg Florida was on 4th Street North, in the old Gateway Shopping Center. It was store number 6045. The Seminole Mall Woolco was store number 6146, opening in 1970. The general manager was Eugene Grimes. The Assistant G.M. was a terrific guy named Art Mowry.

    Like other established mass-merchandisers in the 1970s, Woolco succumbed to increasing competition in the retail sector, which drove down both margins and volume. But Woolco in particular suffered from a toxic corporate culture, that emphasized internal rivalries over team-building. Thus, managers at the local level fretted over what was going on at other local Woolco stores, and everyone lived in terror of store visits from regional managers.

    Alan Bliss, Jacksonville, FL