I love Woolworths

Saturday, November 29th, 2008

There I’ve said it and it’s true. I have a real fondness, a huge affection, a love for a shop.

I’ve known Woolies for as long as, well almost anything. This is where my Mum clothed me. This is where I’d ‘borrow’ the odd sweet, save up and buy my first single, and obsess over those impossibly long felt-tip sets.

Is it just me?
Surely this great institution has been a part of all our lives? And what a sad thought that I might not be able to share those same experiences with my children. I really don’t want to watch the reflection of the screen in my son’s eyes when we choose his first stationery set.
This is real potent emotion stuffed full of sherbet-smelling nostalgia.
And I know it’s not just me. A friend told me the other night that if someone knocked on his door asking for a pound for Woolworths he’d “throw a couple in”. Which is an odd thought because he’d probably tell a charity that “times were a bit hard…”
Woolworths and all its Britishness and commercial incompetence might be a million miles from the high street charity but I think there is a lesson to draw on.
My relationship with Woolies started when I was young – it answered my early desires. Perhaps not the clothes but a bag of pick ‘n mix and some 80s Pop.
So not surprisingly, I find I have a deeper level of affection for charities that were part of my childhood. I have really fond memories of going out at night with my mum and doing the house to house collection for Barnardo’s. It answered my desire to spend time with her, away from my siblings.
Charities should try and engage more with children and their families. Become integral players in childhood memories. I know this might seem like long-term planning but it’s really not that long before a child in primary school will be graduating and starting work.
So what went wrong for poor old Woolworths?
Well that’s easy. They didn’t plan for the long run. They didn’t go on-line.

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