I am fully aware that it happened over 3 long years ago but in all honesty I am still absolutely heartbroken over the liquidation of Woolworths that took place due to the companies Banks GMAC and Burdale turning down a proposed merger with Hilco. Sadly the company couldn’t bribe the sterling hungry suits at the banks with a lifetime supply of Pic n Mix or copies of Madonna’s entire back catalogue so as a result the company fell under the axe.
I have truly fond memories of sprinting to the Woolworths store on Albany Road, Cardiff one Christmas Eve with my Dad who had forgotten to buy Mum a Christmas present, I am honestly not making that up, and emerging from the store an hour later with a present for her and a copy of ‘Virtual Insanity’ by Jamiroquai for myself.
“I’m telling you Anthony, you can get anything in Woolies”, Bozzola senior proudly exclaimed to me as I desperately tried to imitate Jay-Kay’s dance moves in front of the CD player, yes I was a very unusual child. Turns out nowadays you can’t though, as the place and the company are gone. This fact broke both mine and my dear Father’s hearts.
There have been a number of casualties since then but this week alone two were announced that once again bought back that feeling of sadness. The two that I speak of are of course HMV and Blockbusters. Two establishments that were as omnipresent in my childhood and neighbourhood as my older brother’s hangovers and my love of Mark Morrison, it’s the weird child thing again.
There was a Blockbuster on Albany Road about a minute away from Woolworths and I fondly remember on weekends taking strolls to it with my Dad, then later my friends, when I became too cool for my parents. Every weekend I’d rent a game for a mere £2.95 and most times complete it by the return date, as you can probably guess by this I wasn’t massively concerned with girls at this point of my life. Due to the stores awful filling systems at the time, I’d often return them late with no additional charge and even managed to keep a copy of Crash Bandicoot 2 on the PlayStation for over a month without punishment. Thinking about it now I suppose it could be said that my illegitimate antics helped contribute to the company’s demise, well that certainly doesn’t make me feel nice.
HMV was also a regular destination for me; the stores urban section was a lot cheaper than Virgin Megastores even if it did include Joss Stone and Lemar. I have fond memories of the store over the festive period as it was the sort of size that would allow a fat person to go in their all by himself and feel like a crowd, imagine the same store with over 100 angry Cardiff shoppers crammed inside, many of them rather festively proportioned as well. The girls they hired were always at least ‘office hot’ and the DVD section was about as expansive as anywhere else in town. The random novelty items sold from time to time were also entertaining such as key rings, toys and sweets, not least because they were almost always untagged and could easily fit in most pockets. Many times in the midst of the Saturday afternoon chaos I and a dishonest friend would line a pocket or a back-pack with Homer Simpson pens or Pokemon Key rings. Why you ask? Because we were ‘ard, or so we thought. Which brings back that same unpleasant feeling from earlier as I again feel like my antics played a part, albeit a very small one, in the demise of a store that I really loved.
Sometimes when a store shuts down its sad not just because it extenuates the fact that our economy is further down the toilet than yesterday’s dinner but also because it feels like a piece of your child hood is going with it. Agree? Or just think I’m way too sentimental for my own good? Please feel free to comment below with your own thoughts and perhaps even a few examples of your own.