I’m sure you all shopped at Woolworth’s. There were three in Portsmouth – Commercial Road, North End and Cosham.
A paperback called The Wonder of Woolies by Derek Phillips has many anecdotes from former employees, several from the Portsmouth area.
Most say the most prized buy from the store in the late 1940s and early 1950s were... broken biscuits. They came in square silver tins and customers helped themselves leaving many broken.
Rita Waight worked in the North End, store serving on the biscuits counter. She had to wear a ‘horrible’ yellow overall and refused to touch a biscuit for years afterwards.
Bonnie Comlay was a Saturday girl in the Commercial Road store on the plant counter which was never staffed. She soon found out why. She had to arrive earlier than the other girls to fetch plants from the yard and take them outside again after the shop shut.
The famous Pick ’n’ Mix sweet counter was another favourite. Many Saturday girls say they hid under the counter pretending to look for stock while scoffing a chocolate before a supervisor saw them.
Much loved by everyone, especially at Christmas, Woolworth’s went into administration in 2008 closing 815 stores with the loss of 30,000 jobs.
The last store closed on January 6, 2009.