Woolco was a discount retail chain. It was founded in 1962 by the F.W. Woolworth Company. It was a full-line discount department store unlike the five-and-dime Woolworth stores.
At its peak, Woolco had hundreds of stores in the US, as well as in Canada and the United Kingdom.
The typical Woolco store was well over 100,000 square feet, which was quite large for a discount store of that era.
Many of its departments (e.g., shoes and jewelry) were leased to third-party operators, a common practice among early discounters.
Starting in the late 1970s, Woolworth enacted a cost-saving plan for Woolco that included a reduction in floor space for the largest locations, the elimination of most leased departments and an expansion into smaller markets with stores as small as 60,000 square feet.
By 1979, it became clear that the earlier cost-saving plan would not be enough to save Woolco from failure.
Woolco ceased operations in 1982, with all 336 stores closing.
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