Mimosa Records from Woolworth's (1921-1926)
When he returned home after seeing Little Wonder Records on a trip to the parent company in the USA, William Stephenson tried to persuade his boss, Fred Woolworth, to adopt the idea in Great Britain. Fred was unconvinced. He pointed out that poor people did not own gramophones, and argued that the idea was risky because songs quickly went out of fashion. He felt it would be hard to make a profit on a sixpenny record (2½p) when the market price was 1/3d (one shilling and threepence or about 6½p). He reluctantly agreed to a trial in a few large stores.
Stephenson approached the Crystalate Recording Company of Tonbridge, Kent to produce a 5½ inch record which he could sell for sixpence. They agreed, and a period of trial and error followed. They tried:
- a single-sided disc, like a Little Wonder, called the 'M' series. This had only limited success
- a double-sider, called the 'P' series. This had a copyright-paid title on the reverse and featured unknown artists. It was an instant hit with shoppers, and sold in large quantities.
Despite good sales in the trial, Fred Woolworth felt more could be made on other ranges. He allowed the try-out to continue, but it was only after his untimely death in 1923 the range was offered nationwide.
Crystalate proved to be a good partner. It already recorded and pressed its own records. 10" Imperial discs sold for two shillings, while 5½" Kiddiphone discs were a children's favourite for ninepence (3½p). The sound quality of Mimosa was enhanced by recording the songs again, rather than recycling existing content. We've picked our favourites. Please make your selection, listen and enjoy.