1st UK Woolworths Opens
The pioneer of five-and-dime stores Frank Woolworth was apparently attracted to Britain by his English ( Cambridgeshire ) family roots as well as a desire to expand his retail empire. He had already looked at the market in 1890, and was confident his business model would translate perfectly to the English market. He didn’t put his plans into operation until nearly 20 years later – though he had identified the man he wanted to run the UK organisation during his first visit.
For reasons that are not clear Woolworth chose Liverpool rather than Cambridge , linked to his family, or even Stoke-on-Trent where UK chief William Stephenson hailed from, for the site of his first British shop, taking a corner property at 25 Church Street.
The store opened with much razzmatazz on November 5 1909: there were circus performers, a full orchestra, and fireworks. But no sales: the day was used to show visitors what the shop was about, given them free tea, and make an impression for the newspapers. The next day, however, the shelves were almost emptied of goods, none of which cost more than 6d, by enthusiastic new customers. Woolworths would be a British institution, albeit imported, for almost a century.
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