'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

End of Woolworths 

I didn't know that Woolworths survived in the UK after the closure of the 400 remaining stores in the US in 1997. Here in Sacramento, Woolworths had a very popular store on the corner of 10th and K Streets, one of the most successful businesses on the K Street Mall, a street that had been closed to vehicle traffic in the late 1960s. Woolworths was an anchor in an otherwise turbulent situation as the mall to this day has never established a clear commercial identity.

My mother shopped there frequently before retiring with my stepfather in northern Arizona, and the famous lunch counter was packed every day around noontime, right up until the day it was closed. With a large population of non-transient state workers nearby, there were plenty of older patrons who retained their nostalgic bond with the store. It was a very convenient place for people to purchase gifts for friends, family and coworkers, as well as practical household necessities. I've always thought the Sacramento Woolworths may have been the most profitable of the chain's stores at the end.

The store has just been recently converted into a small entertainment complex for what we used to call yuppies, with a musical theatre, a dance club, a bar and a restaurant. Naturally, the facility has been architectually altered to conform to the trendy Art Deco style that is so pervasive in the downtown and midtown. The timing is not very propicious for this sort of thing. With deflation stalking the US economy, which is entering its worst economic downturn in decades, an upper middle income entertainment facility doesn't strike me as the most prudent project. Absent a substantial amount of redevelopment subsidy, which have admittedly flowed freely here, I wouldn't be surprised if it closed within a year. It certainly isn't going to last as long as the Woolworths store it replaced, that's for sure.

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