07 Jul

Stand for something

I popped out to buy some Nutella earlier (this was an emergency: it’s been that kind of day).

As I parked in my local high street, I glanced over at the large, double-fronted shop that is now Carpet Right.

A wave of nostalgia hit me: I remember when it was a Woolworths.

You could go in and buy pick n mix, stationery, toiletries, toys, videos/DVDs, CDs, DIY tools… pretty much anything you wanted.

The second thought that hit me was; ‘that’s why they ceased to exist’.

Woolworths didn’t stand for anything. They sold everything, but stood for nothing.
Were they a sweet shop? A hardware store? A convenience store? A toy shop?

Sometimes you’d go into a Woolworths and – by the entrance – there’d be a display of 1 kg bars of Dairy Milk. Other times you’d go in and there’d be a display of garden forks and spades.
Woolworths essentially offered bits of what B & Q, WH Smith, Rymans, Toys R Us etc did.

No-one knew quite what they stood for or the one reason to go to them, so they crumbled to dust.

You could argue that Tesco branched into everything, but they did so after firmly establishing themselves as a food retailer first. On that sure footing, they then went into other markets.

Woolworths was traditional, and cute, and kinda quaint, and British… but it tried to be all things to all people, which didn’t work.

If you have a business, it has to stand for something: it has to stand for one thing above all others.
Then, if you have a sure footing in one arena – and people know you as being good at that one thing – you can branch into other arenas.
If you try to do / be everything at once, you may well end up in that Woolworths bracket.

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