Is Woolies’ time up?

There’s nothing like nostalgia to bring home the strength of the recession, as old fixtures of life start to slide. Many on my generation will feel a pang at the news that Woolworth’s is fighting for it’s life. particularly at this time of year.

Woolie’s has been tottering for years under pressure from the supermarkets but its hundreds of High St stores arestill where you pick up the best bad taste cheapo Christmas presents and stocking fillers. You would think now, when family budgets are coming under real pressure that this is the time to save Woolie’s.

The US ambassador’s home in Regent’s Park Winfield House recalls past glories. It was once the home of Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton , the Paris Hilton of those days. “Winfield ” was the own brand name. The trouble with Woolies today is that you never know what stock beyond jumbo sweeties packs and DVDs it actually holds. And that’s its big problem.

What are the Woolworth niches today? A century ago it was the original penny bazaar store imitated by Marks and Spencer’s, amazing to think so now. In the Derry of the 50s, you got your pick’n’ mix sweets and loose biscuits and those peculiar wee cylinders of Lyons Maid ice cream.

Thinking about just those innocent those days could be, I remember as very small boy watching agog as Spider Kelly legendary featherweight boxing champion with his mates all of them wearing new sports jackets, and licking their Lyons Maid pokes ( sic), swaggering out of Woolies in Ferryquay St, the week after some big fight he’d just won.

In those days, Woolworth’s was cool. In Derry at least.

Former BBC journalist and manager in Belfast, Manchester and London, Editor Spolight; Political Editor BBC NI; Current Affairs Commissioning editor BBC Radio 4; Editor Political and Parliamentary Programmes, BBC Westminster; former London Editor Belfast Telegraph. Hon Senior Research Fellow, The Constitution Unit, Univ Coll. London