Friday, March 17, 2017

POP Shop: Whatever Happened To Woolco?


Large store chains come and go- POP Shop aims to track down what happened to many of the larger yet forgotten places.


In the 1960's, discount chains were the next big fad. Five and dime retailers were flooding into the market, eager to establish larger suburban presences. Kresge, Inc had found huge success with its K-Mart stores and Woolworth didn't want to be on the sidelines. Enter Woolco, which actually tried to be a much bigger format store than many of the other similar stores. At the time, Woolworth was the biggest player in the five and dime world and it wanted to be the same in the discount world. Woolco Stores were meant to make a big splash.


By the 1980's, however, it became clear that Woolco would never be one of the big players. Woolworth had overestimated the public's desire for discount stores and the Woolco branches were way too big. The company originally tried to partition off the stores to make them smaller. That didn't work out, so all of the U.S. stores were shutdown. The Canadian stores lived on until they were purchased by Wal-Mart in the 1990's.

Woolworth would eventually close its flagship discount stores to concentrate on what had been just one small division of the company- Foot Locker. The corporation survives today as Foot Locker, Inc.