What We Bought at Woolworths UK

Pic 'n' Mix Cup, Winfield Lager and Aran Knitting Book

Over recent months, I have been gathering photos of old products that were available to buy at Woolworth stores in the UK. So I thought it was high time I made some use of them and created this video, which I hope you enjoy watching. The music is "Shopping" by Pet Shop Boys, which featured on their Actually album back in the 1980s. Many of the products are from the 70s and 80s, although one or two are from the 60s and a few are from the Noughties before they closed down in 2009.

I remember as a child that the store used to sell a little bit of everything, from emulsion paint to bras! You will see in the video the wide variety of items available, starting with a hand-made crochet hair band, which most definitely looks 60s. 

Next up is Winfield Keller Lager which definitely surprised me, as I had no idea that they served alcohol. I'm not sure I would of bought that anyway, as I hate cheap, mass-produced beer which always tastes so gassy and watered down.

The Winfield self locking padlock looks either 60s or 70s, and it is interesting to see that it was made in England. It's hard to find anything made in this country these days.

The panti-hose and tights repair kit is very much of its time, and in today's throw-away society, almost everyone just buys new ones as soon as a hole appears. I don't by panti-hose, of course, but if my socks become holier than thou then I definitely won't be getting out a needle and thread!

That home barber looks like a disaster waiting to happen, and I'm not sure I would let it anywhere near my hair! I see it was made in Sweden. You don't see many products imported from Sweden, and the only thing that springs to mind is ABBA and Volvos!

The aran knitting pattern reminds me of when my nan used to knit me an aran jumper every year and the arms were always way too long. I swear she thought I was an orangutan! "You'll grow into it" she said, but I never did. I used to wear it just to visit her to give the impression I actually liked it! The guy with the tash looks a little like Tom Selleck in Magnum, don't you think?

Woolworths was always the place to go if you needed handy little accessories like buttons, elastic and fuse wire. Our draws were always well stocked with such items. My mum used to have buttons of all sizes and colours, just in case we may need one sewn on one day.

The cotton shirt reminded me that they used to sell clothes, too. I remember that there was a children's section that sold Ladybird clothes, and there was many a time when my mum would embarrass me by making me try on some trousers or shorts in the middle of the aisle.

A lot of stuff is made in China these days, but back in the 70s I remember many products being made in Hong Kong, such as the Handbag Mirror shown in the video. 

Winfield low noise ferric oxide cassette with case.

Woolies was also the place to go to for blank music and VHS cassettes. I bought there own Winfield brand on a number of occasions, although cheap brands rarely gave you the best quality, of course. If you didn't mind risking a dodgy recording, then you could save a few pennies.

Candles were another item we always had in stock back in the 70s and 80s. Winters could be pretty harsh back then, and there were regular power cuts when the wind and snow brought down the power lines. In the 70s, of course, the lights went out often during the miners strikes.

There was always a good choice of toys and games in Woolworth's too, and I used to enjoy a jigsaw puzzle as a child which was very handy on a wet afternoon. There was no internet back then, of course, so you needed something to keep your mind occupied.

The Winfield White Spirit reminded me that you could also buy DIY items including paint and brushes from the store. I never went in there specifically for any DIY items as there were the big out-of-town stores like Texas and Great Mills. But you would often find yourself going in for a box of Black Magic chocolates for your Mum, and coming out with a can of Winfield emulsion paint and a Showaddywaddy album. You would then go back in again because you have forgotten to buy the Black Magic!

The Wombles Washday Set would have been popular when I was a lad in the 70s. The Wombles were hugely popular back then and as well as having their own TV series, they also released a number of hit records. Who could forget "Remember you're a Womble" and "Wombling Merry Christmas".

Woolies was a great place to visit for Christmas decorations, including Christmas Tree lights and those glass baubles featured in the video. I remember we had a wooden floor in the hallway where we used to put up the tree, so we lost quite a number of glass baubles which sometimes fell of the tree. Looking back, it was pretty daft to put the tree on a wooden floor.

One of the main reasons I visited the store as a teenager was to buy records and tapes. They always had the Top 40 in stock, and maybe even the Top 100 in bigger stores, so I would be in their every Saturday afternoon to browse through the latest releases. 

Those lamps shades reminded me that almost everyone had orange ones with tassles back in the day. I remember we also had orange curtains, too, and it was definitely one of the more trendy colours of the 70s and into the 80s. Brown was another popular colour and we had orange and brown chequered floor tiles in the kitchen. They were such yucky colours when I think back!

Woolworth's is best-remembered, though, for it's Pic N' Mix. However, not everyone used the scoop provided and I really didn't fancy eating sweets that had been mauled and coughed upon on by hundreds of customers! 

Well, I hope you enjoyed my brief glimpse into what we bought at Woolworth's. Times have changed considerably, of course, and my nearest high street has hardly any shops and has become something of a ghost town. It's a great shame, as I always used to look forward to Saturday afternoons when the streets were bustling with people and struggling with their overfilled carrier bags. Those days are very sadly missed.

Woolworth Pic N Mix

Woolworths Christmas Advert 2004

Shopping in the 80s

Woolworths Cassette Tapes Advert 1983