One audio tape brand I’m not seeing much of on the Internet is Woolworths. Until it went out of business in early 2009, Woolworths (very often known as Woollies) was a British high street retail chain store. It had been a fairly well respected and popular chain of large general product shops in the latter part of the 20th century, perhaps best known for selling sweets and snacks, entertainment media such as records and tapes, and household electrical items such as light bulbs or plug extensions.
But the new century hit Woolworths hard, with the entertainment side of its trade moving rapidly towards online vendors. The credit crunch, which took a hold in the UK from 2007, exacerbated Woolworths’ problems, and the only option was for the company to cut serious corners. In the summer of 2008 I bought an umbrella from Woolworths, and the quality was absolutely shocking. It didn’t last two weeks! It wasn’t expensive, but you wouldn’t normally expect that sort of rubbish from Woolworths, even on a budget.
In the morning news on 17th September 2008, Woolworths announced pre-tax losses of almost £100,000,000, and soon fell into administration, on 26th November 2008, along with the furniture chain MFI.
From 11th December 2008, all 815 remaining Woolworths shops commenced a closing-down sale, which was chaos. They didn’t have the staff numbers to cope with the stampede, and in those final weeks a trip into Woolworths would be a picture of neglect. Shelves half empty and in disorder, goods all over the floors with no one available or sufficiently bothered to pick any of it up… A shock to see, considering how well looked after the stores were in the 1990s. There were also complaints from customers that when they arrived at the ‘sales’ the prices were actually higher than they had been the previous week. The final 200 branches closed on 6th January 2009.
And so to the cassette, which comes from 1996 or thereabouts. At this time, the case liners and packaging for Woolworths tapes were branded, but the cassettes themselves were entirely unmarked, comprising clear plastic construction and no label. Stick-on user labels were provided as was usual with audio cassettes, but as sold, there were no obvious identifiers on Woolworths Ferric 90s. This is a Type 1 normal bias tape, and the quality is fine for a bog standard ferric. In fact this was a better tape than some well known Type 1s I can think of.
The high bias Chrome version of Woollies’ own brand audio tape can be found via THIS LINK.