The wonder of Woolworths - gone, but not forgotten

This month 14 years ago, Woolworths (or Woolies, as it was affectionately known) closed the last of its 19 stores in Northern Ireland – and many of us felt bereft.

Woolies was a household name, a one-stop-shop which sold everything from chocolate bars to toasters and televisions, Pyrex dishes to Ladybird clothes, aerobics DVDs to shoe polish, Chad Valley toys, pencils, pens, mops – and, I’m sure if you looked hard enough, kitchen sinks.

But the main reason everyone, both young and old, loved the cheap and cheerful chain was the Pick ‘n’ Mix sweet counter.

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Known by some scoundrels as the ‘Pick ‘n’ Nick’, it had everything from white mice, to flying saucers and strawberry laces, and was watched over by pacing sales assistants , wearing nylon tabards, American tan tights and eagle eyes.

In my day, Woolies was less of a shop and more of a meeting place for excitable teenage girls to gabble and flick through magazines and Top 10 singles, arguing over who was the best looking member of A-ha (Morton Harket, obviously).

So, whilst the demise of Woolworths is still keenly felt by many, at least we still have a store of memories and perhaps even a K-Tel compilation album or two that we bought from the bargain bin in 1983.