On Friday, 5 December 1924, Woolworths Stupendous Bargain Basement opened for business in Sydney's Imperial Arcade. The opening advertisement said: 'Every city needs a Woolworths: Sydney has it now. Every man, woman and child needs a handy place where good things are cheap.
At 9 a.m. it seemed that every man, woman and child was waiting for the roll-up wooden doors of the store to open. Queues at the two entrances stretched out of the Imperial Arcade and along Pitt and Castlereagh Street. Inside all was ready. Staff had been at work since 6.30 a.m. Stock was piled high on the dark wooden counters. The doors went up and the crowds poured down the two narrow stairways. Some unhappily, went over the banisters. Ventilation was poor, it was a hot December day, and very soon customers were fainting and the lunchroom had to be converted to a casualty station.
There were bargains galore.
Cup, saucer and plate, usually 2/6, only 9d; cut glass engagement rings 2/- and on the sixpenny counters were scrub brushes, jars of Vaseline, vegetable shredders and all over Sydney people were carrying straw brooms. They were a special at 1/- - unwrapped.
The most expensive items on sale were ten-quart, aluminium preserving pans, priced at 9/11.
No one had been asked to buy; all had been given a money back guarantee of satisfaction - two principles that became intrinsic to the Woolworths way.
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