With the administrators now sorting out the books, and the fear that this Christmas may be its last, Mylo Willkin conjures up fond memories of Woolworths.
Every British child will have a vivid memory of a visit to Woolworths, the laminate flooring sticking to the soles of your shoes, getting lost in haste to get to the sweets aisle, or the rows on rows of Lego and Playmobil, just by the back exit, on the right; or whether it be the cold emptiness on a Saturday afternoon, as bargain hunters quickly browsed, and hastened outwards, itemless.
This has been the main problem for the Woolworths owners, the 815 store strong company now Â£385 million in debt. With administrators sorting through the wreckage, no-one knows whether they will have just bought their last bag of pic n' mix from the store which used to be the heart of every high-street in the country.
With a sale leaflet from the man outside and ABBA playing cautiously over the speakers I entered the store which I had stolen a one penny sweet from when I was 7 and half (I gave it back in the end), expecting despondently to find cashiers twirling their thumbs and security guards scrutinising wearily over the aged couple in the sock section. However the shop seemed bustling with eager consumers, young and old alike, browsing vivaciously over Cliff Richard's new autobiography, or animatedly fawning at Anekin Skywalker's latest Lego venture in his battle against the Clones.
Staff busying themselves re-stocking quick selling items seemed calm in the knowledge they might very well be unemployed before Christmas with one even joking as he carried a particularly heavy box, "I can't wait till we go redundant".
They no doubt feel there would be an irreplaceable hole in the high-street if the 99th year of their existence saw the close of the store founded in 1879 in the US, but the 92% drop in shares doesn't bode well for the future. With seemingly no buyers on the horizon the store is very much on the brink of becoming the latest victim of the recession, Gillingham residents will be doing their best to save the British icon and get it through its 100th Christmas and beyond. Barbara, 73, reminisced "It would be very sad. I have been shopping here for over 60 years. I'd buy it for a pound!" So would I...