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and the changing habits of shoppers

Time:2018-01-09 04:26Underwear site information Click:

News local news 1 Edmonton Journal

A biennial reunion marking the 25th anniversary of the end of Woodward’s in Edmonton will in turn mark the end of the reunion.

With the ranks of former employees thinning from year to year, members of the organizing committee have decided that the May 26 reunion will be the final one.

Reunion attendance has almost halved since 350 attended the first event at the Woodvale Community League in 2012.

“We’ve lost a lot of good friends over the years,” said Denis Brown, one of the event organizers.

“This year, almost every month, someone has passed away that we used to work with,” added former employee Audrey Barner.

At its peak, a dozen Woodward’s full-line department stores were dotted across Alberta, six of which were located in Edmonton.

The Vancouver-based chain, started by Charles Woodward in 1892, at its peak operated stores across Alberta and British Columbia.

In the early years — the first Edmonton location opened in 1926 — stores carried everything from lawn mowers to carpets and included travel departments, hair salons, food floors and, in some cases, gas stations.

But the creep of big U.S. box stores across the border bucked the status quo and challenged the dominance of the western Canadian retail giant.

In the end that, and the changing habits of shoppers, would see the company fail, eventually taken over by The Bay and Zellers.

“When the big box stores came in, that’s what really sunk the ship,” said Henk Albarda.

Anyone interested in attending the final reunion can contact Albarda at 780-466-0873.

Each of the former employees were asked for their fondest memory of working at Woodward’s. Here are their edited and condensed answers:

Henk Albarda, 86, Capilano

31 years of service between 1958 and 1989

When I first started working I didn’t even have a car, I would ride from downtown to Westmount and I would mow two lawns on the way there. When I would finish I would come back downtown to drive a cab. But then over the years the economics of it changed. It was a good job. It was a secure job. The benefits were great. So having a family to raise, a mortgage to pay and a car payment to make, you didn’t need to hopscotch around to find something for a nickel better.

 

Doreen Valentine, 85, Duggan

22 years of service between 1971 and 1993

It was the camaraderie. Everyone that Woodward’s hired just seemed to fit — they all just fit in as if it was their place. The employees were a family and we still are.

Denis Brown, 76, Parkland County

33 years of service between 1960 and 1993

My experience at Woodward’s spans from working as stock boy right through to store manager and I have too many memories … My fondest memory of Woodward’s was the number of people I made friends with and still have as friends today. I still communicate with a great number of employees that became good friends. The employees were extremely loyal to the company … because it was a good company. It was a family company and they treated the staff excellently. They hung their hats on that.

Mary Jane Galusha, 89, Forest Heights

31 years of service between 1954 and 1985

I started during one of the big sales and I was only ever going to work for Woodward’s for six months, but then I just stayed. I remember I was living down in the flats where the River Queen is now and I’d walk up the stairs by the Hotel Macdonald to work. I even knew how many steps there were: 240. I took the skin off my fingers, but they were good people to work for and they looked after the staff.

Audrey Barner, 75, Petrolia

23 years of service between 1970 and 1993 

My first day they assigned me to a lady who was going to show me the ropes. We went up for coffee and there were a few people sitting around the coffee table and she introduced me by saying “This is our new girl and she just started in the ballroom.” Everybody in the place was laughing and I had no idea what they were talking about, but it turns out she was training me in men’s underwear. But that was the kind of place it was. It was fun and was all about the family. We were family.

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