Woolworths was a stalwart shop in Aberdeen for almost 90 years, before the brand disappeared from the British High Street forever.
One of the first global franchises, Woolworths was a retail phenomenon selling mass-produced goods at low prices – and Aberdonians loved it.
Generations of children saved up their pocket money to spend in the toy department, where shelves would be packed from floor to ceiling with the latest goodies and gadgets.
From the 1970s, the entertainment department was a big attraction to shoppers who could pick up the latest singles, vinyl, cassettes and videos at affordable prices.
And, of course, no trip to Woolworths was complete without taking home some sweets from Woolies’ famous pic’n’mix.
Aberdeen’s first branch of FW Woolworth and sons – store number 79 – opened at 48-52 St Nicholas Street on October 18 1919.
An advert in the P&J from the opening day in 1919 declared that nothing in the new department store cost over sixpence.
Goods on offer included tin household goods, jewellery, a haberdashery, drapery, toys, handkerchiefs – and confectionary.
Aberdonians fondly called it the “Wee Woolies” as it was much smaller than the huge, three-storey branch that opened on Union Street five years later.
The shop closed in 1983 when the street was redeveloped.
Woolies was doing a roaring trade and opened its second store – number 228 – in Aberdeen on Union Street in 1926.
The bold sign over the traditional shopfront in this photo from the 1930s bore its famous slogan “nothing over sixpence”.
The window displays at 111-119 Union Street were piled high with goods to tempt shoppers.
By 1959, times were changing and Woolworths’ “nothing over sixpence” slogan and sign were long gone.
The signage had changed, but the store was as popular as ever, a throng of shoppers stand outside the Aberdeen shop in this photo above.
Many friendships – and courtships – were forged over the counters at Aberdeen’s Woolworths, and former staff look back fondly on their time working there.
This photo from 1966 showed the stylish shop assistants enjoying a dinner dance at the Bon Accord Hotel.
Supervisors, twin sisters Isabella and Annie Shand, pictured in the back row, were celebrating 21 years’ service with the firm.
The music department was always a busy corner of the Aberdeen Woolworths store, as seen in this photo from 1976.
The shop had changed radically from its 1920s layout and was much more open.
Aberdeen’s store was considered to be one of the jewels in the crown of Woolworths’ regional output, and would often host regional meetings so staff down south could see it in operation.
The shop had changed on the outside too – the sign had another facelift, and by the late 1970s, the “FW Woolworth” had been dropped in favour of the more colloquial Woolworth.
The original timber and glass shopfront was still intact here in 1979, but was removed during modernisation in the 1980s.
From this wider view, people may recognise the building these days as McDonalds.
Woolworths’ popular Aberdeen store won an award in August 1984 for the highest sales of pop music singles of any branch in the UK.
Delighted record department staff received the golden disc accolade from Hasan Akhtar of Record Merchandisers.
The team members and representatives of Record Merchandisers enjoyed a ceremony and lunch at Gerards Restaurant to mark the occasion.
Another decade and another shopfront – any hint of the traditional Woolworths arcade of yesteryear was firmly gone by 1987.
The Aberdeen branch continued to perform well and at its peak, Woolworths had 1 million customers passing through its UK stores a day.
But there was a big change in 1990 when the shop left its Union Street home of almost 65 years to move into the new Bon Accord Centre.
Sadly, changing retail habits, competition from e-commerce online and the 2008 financial crisis spelled the end for this cherished brand.
There was devastation when Woolworths announced days before Christmas that all its UK stores would shut with the loss of 27,000 jobs.
The Aberdeen store was one of the first to close and with it went 89 years of retail innovation and history.
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