End of an era?


I’ve already referred to the global economic crisis and the ensuing recession in a previous post. And there can be no doubt that this one’s going to be a real killer with effects being felt by us all in innumerable ways. Many of us are already suffering serious financial hardship, with all indications being that things are going to get a lot worse before any real relief is forthcoming.

The seriousness of the situation is being brought home to us in many different ways, by many different things.

For me, personally, one of those things happened with the announcement last week that Woolworths was going “into administration”.

That many businesses will run into difficulties, even going bankrupt and/or folding completely is a foregone conclusion.
But there are some businesses that are so familiar to me that, in my mind, they’re practically institutions. Inconceivable (despite the warnings of common sense) that they should be anything other than marginally touched by the present crisis.
Marks & Spencer, Boots, W.H.Smith… yes, at one time or another they’ve all had their financial difficulties. Yet have somehow managed to survive. And Woolworths ranks right up there alongside these “institutions”.

Why? Because for as long as I can remember, even back to early childhood, they’ve always been there. There on the High Street (or other principal centre of shopping) of practically every town I’ve ever lived in or visited throughout my entire life. They’re sort of an intrinsic part of my “mental landscape of towns” as it were.

Yet now there’s the possibility, the strong possibility, that Woolworths (or “Woolies” as my mum used to call it) may cease to exist. Or certainly cease to exist in its present form.
Of course, its present form is not as its always been, but throughout all the changes Woolworths as a distinct entity has always been there. Which it may not be in the months to come.

And I’m surprised at the shock and dismay I experienced on hearing the announcement. Surprised because, and indeed for quite a few years now, its a shop I hardly ever visit. In fact, I have difficulty recollecting the last time I entered its doors. Yet, in some strange way, I shall miss it if it goes.

There’s a comfort to be had in things that are unchanging, that seem to epitomise unwavering stability. And such things are especially important in times of uncertainty. So this is my own little tribute to one of those things that clearly is no longer as stable or rock-solid as I’d always assumed.

Sad bad times indeed!



About fotdmike

Occasional photographer; occasional writer/blogger; occasional activist; occasional computer-geek. Bit of a fool really.
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3 Responses to End of an era?

  1. forkboy says:

    It is a sad state of affairs when the tried and true appear to be going under for the final time. Woolworths packed it in here many years ago, but they were not the prolific retailer of your fine nation.

    However, I too have felt the pain of a lost love in the form of a retailer. The disappearance of a certain retailer in Florida was oddly difficult. Like Woolies for you, Eckerds was everywhere. They were so prolific one didn’t even think about them. You knew they were always there and would always be there, but that turned out to be tragically untrue.

    From an economic perspective though, this mess comes as no real surprise. The years of cheap money (i.e. historically low interest rates for an extended period of time) allowed many businesses to borrow their way out of bankruptcy. Many of the businesses we are seeing shutter today would have closed years ago if money hadn’t been in such plentiful supply.

    So we are really seeing a double-take on the current recession: businesses closing now because of current economic problems and other businesses that should have closed years ago finally dying their belated deaths.

  2. fotdmike says:

    That’s absolutely right of course, and I’m sure we’ll be witnessing the demise of many other well-known names before these current problems have run their course.
    But the extent of my reaction to the possibility of Woolies going under really surprised me.

    From a wider perspective though I view the present situation with somewhat mixed feelings.
    On the one hand there’s natural anxiety (indeed, even worry) about how things will impact my own personal situation. Then a somewhat less intense or immediate concern about the impact on others, with an interest in how it will affect society as a whole. Increased crime rates? Civil unrest? Or what?

    Then on the other hand, and deriving from my rather unconventional views on the economic system as a whole, I have to confess to a certain degree of “about time too” feelings.

    All of which could of course be totally misplaced as its still not too late for the politicians to come up with yet another sticking-plaster solution that will once again delay the inevitable.

  3. Pingback: Oh gleeful times « Adventures of an Idiot - occasional ramblings of a photography freak

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