Is this the end of an institution?

ALONG with “Marks” and “Smiths” Woolworths has its own pet name - “Woolies”.

ALONG with “Marks” and “Smiths” Woolworths has its own pet name - “Woolies”.

It is an institution of the high street and now that it looks like we're going to lose it we love it all the more - it's just a shame we stopped shopping there.

But in its heyday Woolworths was a popular store.

Young couples kitted out their homes, children enjoyed the selection of toys, the stores sold clothes and food and you could get anything in woollies couldn't you? And of course we're all going to miss the pic and mix!

When I popped in for a few pounds worth of sweets - and the Evening Star newsdesk was adamant it had to include chocolate éclairs - the Ipswich branch of at Carr Street was busy.

Christmas shoppers were filling every aisle, staff were attentive and helpful and they were friendly.

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A quick look around gives you an idea of the vast range of products the shop offers and perhaps the number of half price, three for two and special offers give you a hint as to the trouble the company is in.

Champagne glasses at £1.75 each

A 16 piece cutlery set at £10

A wooden textured photo frame for £6

A selection of birthday cards displayed next to a £6 iron

Eight soft sport balls from £3.99

Up to half price Playskool products including a Choo Choo toy reduced from £19.99 to £14.99

Ipswich Monopoly reduced from £24.99 to £15

A rubber Wonderbroom for £7.99

And a Hornby Flying Scotsman train set for £129.99 - perhaps one of the store's more high cost items.

If anything the store might look a bit old fashioned and it's a charge that has been levelled at the chain.

It is the variety of items for sale, from DVDs to saucepans that had been Woolworth's strength but the decline of the company is in almost direct correlation to the rise of the supermarkets and as one shopper said to me “there's nothing you can get in Woolworths that you can't get elsewhere.”

Frank Woolworth opened his first store in Pennsylvania, America on June 21, 1879, with the revolutionary idea of setting a fixed price for his goods, either five or 10 cents.


James Cole, 19, of Hamilton Road, Felixstowe, said: “It's a shame. I use it for general bits and pieces and DVDs - they do some really good deals.”

Patrick Naylor, owner of The Leather Shop, Bent Hill, Felixstowe, said: “I am not really surprised - these things don't last forever. I think places like Primark and the supermarkets have taken their business.”

Mira Davey, of Hamilton Gardens, Felixstowe, said: “It's quite a shock to think Woolworths is in trouble. It's a place where you can buy your clothes, music and everything in one place. I think we definitely need it.”

Tom Reeves, of Carr Road, Felixstowe, said: “I am surprised - I was not aware until very recently that they had problems. I do shop there occasionally but probably not as much as I used to do.”

Louise Yule, 31, of Quantrill terrace, Kesgrave.

“I've been getting toys and stocking fillers. I've spent about £100 and got £180 worth of things because of the reductions.

“It will be a shame to see Woolworths go. I;m a regular shopper and it's especially good for children's things. I'm surprised to hear it is in trouble.”

Michael Hood, 50, of Roman Way, Felixstowe.

“I've spent £8 on a game. I came here looking for things for my niece. It's sad it is in administration. Woolworths is somewhere you used to go as a kid. It's a tradition.”

Chloe Moore, 21, of Wattisham.

“I haven't bought anything today. I was looking for a travel adaptor but they didn't have one. I shopped in Woolworths for all my kitchen things, cushions and lamps. It's good value for money, they normally have everything you want and everywhere you go there's a Woolies.”

Maureen Parker, 68, and Barbara Sanderson, 73, were on a shopping trip from Walton-on-the-Naze.

Maureen said: “We're on a day out doing some Christmas shopping. I would be very sad to see it go. It is quite upsetting.”

Barbara said: “There are so many things at such reasonable prices. I think it could have done with a bit of a revamp.”

Paul, 41, and Lynn Gedney, 40 of Stowmarket.

Lynn said: “We've bought lots of sweets and spent about £7. We've got three children and we like the toys and the deals they do.

“We would be sad to see it go.”

Paul added: “It's a sign of the times. We've been using Woolworths all our lives, every town has got one, you expect to see it on the high street.”