Monday, 5 January 2009

If it's Cold, Wear your Woolies

Today was cold -- very cold. The plus side of this meant that everything looked beautifully white:

My garden -- with a primary school behind (if you were wondering)

I am working with my dad at his shop at the moment. Usually mum works with him, but she is still suffering with the remaining effects of the flu, so I have stepped in to take her place. The shop is primarily a picture framing business which also sells greetings cards and gifts. My father is also a photographer and sells his work in the shop too. It can be a very pleasurable experience working there, especially when the majority of the customers are so friendly. It is the polar opposite of my previous job in retail: working for Woolworths, a British chain store which sold a variety of products from toys and sweets, to televisions and lawn mowers.

When I graduated from university in 2006 I had to find a job -- any job -- to fund my trip to go travelling to China (my initial plan was only to holiday there for two months, come home, and get a "real" job). After a month or two of unemployment, I decided that Woolworths could be an appropriate means to my end. It was probably my favourite shop when I was younger, I used to love running right to the back of the shop to look at the toys.

I was successful with my job application, and started working immediately. The staff I worked closely with on the entertainment department were all brilliant, and I had a very enjoyable time with them. On the other hand, everything else about the job and the company was a shambles to say the least. The management was a disorganised mess, and it was obvious that the store was very dated; it could not even compare to the likes of the Apple Store which fits right into a 21st century high street. After my seven months of saving came to an end, I genuinely couldn't wait to get out of there. It was certainly a change going from Woolworths to Hangzhou.

My "Woolies" name tag

I am only recounting my memories of this because today is the day that the remaining Woolworths stores close for the last time. For those who don't know, about two months ago the company went into administration as it was millions of pounds in debt. There were no buyers for the company so it was announced a few weeks ago that all of the 800 stores across the UK would close. Of course, the global economic crisis has had something to do with this, but in my mind it has only quickened what was a certain inevitability anyway.



Ohh baby, i wish i get to pay a visit to Woolworths before they all closed, and meet the people u once worked with!! Can u bring that Woolworth name tag to china? It looks interesting maybe u'll let me keep it HAHA.. :D And i really hope ur mom will get better soon!! xxxxxxxxx

Elwin said...

It must be hilarious to have a primary school behind the garden.

And I didn't know you worked for a chain store before you came to China, not to mention that you stayed there for seven months. Anyway, it's really a hart time for these companies, hope everyone could get through this soon.

mabelp said...

Hi Chris! Your garden looks so white and pretty! It seems the flu has been affecting your mum? Nowadays, the flu seems much stronger than before. Hope she will get well soon!

Your shop is selling greeting cards and your father works, do u have any pic?

Woolworths Australia is one of our old customers in the past, so I know their size. Many people will be unemployed due to Woolworths UK's bad news! I really hope this situation will not last too long.

Johnny Ding said...

It's me Johnny from China, your student.Seems you have a good time at home. Wish ur mom will be fine soon. Will you be back before 17th. I wrote an email to you. Check it please!

Chris said...

Aw, sorry Kimi. I'm going to go out on Saturday and maybe visit a few of the people I worked with there. I'm sure you will get to see them when you come. Sure, I will bring the name badge with me :)

Elwin, weirdly enough that wasn't the primary school I went to. It would have been brilliant getting there in the morning. We get a lot of footballs kicked into our garden.

It seems that right now is the worst time ever for big companies. Quite a few high street chains have gone bankrupt now, I just can't imagine what will replace them all.

Mabel, I keep meaning to email you, I promise I will write to you tomorrow. Right now it is almost midnight, I just don't know where the time goes sometimes. Thank you for asking, my mum is much better now. Coincidentally I have just added a picture of my dad's shop in my new post!