The giant Big W is a feature of malls across the country but it seems like many of us still don’t know what the W really stands for.
TikTokker Toby Rozario sparked a new round of interest in the origins of the discount retailer with a video that has been liked more than 57,000 times.
The video shows him in front of a Google search asking what Big W is and announces his shock when he finds out that W stands for Woolworths. “What? My life was a lie.”
A spokesperson for Big W confirmed to news.com.au that W does not actually reflect the close relationship between Woolworths and Big W stores we know today.
“The name originated in 1964 with the opening of the first Big W at Jesmond Shopping Center in Newcastle,” a spokesperson told news.com.au.
“This was also the first mall Woolworths built and developed itself, as the name Big W was a reflection of the brand’s close relationship with Woolworths.”
RELATED: What the “K” stands for in Kmart
The original Big W stores were department stores similar to Meyer and reflect the Woolworths’ foundation in the general merchandise trade.
The company still had several hundred “Variety” stores – the “original” Woolworths stores – in 1964, which were still selling more than the fledgling supermarket division, and were the mainstay of the company.
The spokesperson said, “Big W has really been like the big Woolworths – Variety’s traditional stores.”
In 1970, the name Big W was discontinued and the stores were transformed into what were known as Woolworths Family Centers with “a very large selection of general merchandise as well as a supermarket food group”.
“These stores eventually turned into supermarkets in the 1980s,” she told news.com.au.
The Big W name was revived with the new store in Tamworth in 1976, which was the first large discount Big W store to open, with a more successful department store format that continues today.
KMART’s ‘K’ and many more
Big W isn’t the only store whose name causes controversy.
The big red “K” on Kmart, a trademark name that was registered as trademark in 1969, appears to represent nothing. But K could be a nod to its founder, Mr Kresge who passed away in 1966, three years before the first Kmart opened in Australia.
H&M, the global express fashion center that originated in Sweden, is derived from its original store name Hennes, which means “she” in Swedish. At the time, the retailer was only stocking womenswear.
Two decades later, Hennes acquired men’s outfitters Mauritz Widforss. This is how Hennes and Mauritz, or H&M, was born.
JB Hi-Fi was founded in 1974 by John Barbuto who named the premier store in Melbourne with his initials.
ASOS, the British e-commerce fashion retailer, stands for AsSeenOnScreen. The idea came from giving shoppers every day the looks that celebrities have been seen wearing on screen.
BWS stands for beer, wine, and spirits while health insurer BUPA, pronounced “boo-ba”, stands for the less attractive United British Savings Association.
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