Holdsworth Department Stores is a fictitious department store chain that sponsored the fictitious Spectral Shadows radio serial. It was created to support The Spectral Shadows Radio Concept, but has also become a running gag that sometimes appears in the net serial and its accompanying art work.
The idea for a fictional department store sponsor was inspired by Woolworth's having sponsored a real Old Time Radio Furry Fantasy serial, "The Cinnamon Bear," as well as the general Old Time Radio cliché of having a sponsor's representative be a character living in the neighborhood of the main characters of a show so that he can work in a commercial any time someone encounters him.
In the Spectral Shadows radio program, any time a character would need to buy something, that would be an excuse for them to go to a Holdsworth's store. It wouldn't matter if the story line switched planets, dimensions or spheres of reality, if a character needed something, there would always be a Holdsworth's handy, supporting the sponsor's slogan that "There's always a Holdsworth's near you."
Any time a character would enter a Holdsworth's, the sponsor's representative they would meet there would always be Howard Faunzel, indicating that there was actually only one Holdsworth's store, but that this one store was of an inter-dimensional nature, being in all places and times at once, which is typical of the sci-fi concepts explored in the series.
Thus Christine is able to meet Howard Faunzel in a department store on the planet Cygnus, 100,000 years in the future, and note that he looks pretty much the same as he did in the store near her house on the planet Chikyu. But, in accordance with the Old Time Radio cliché, she will not make a big deal out of this anomaly. After the concept gets its first explanation in Episode 7 of Serial 2, it is never questioned in anything other than a gentle hint at the 4th wall.
Likewise, no one ever questions that Howard Faunzel is a faun, as wouldn't have been directly apparent in the radio show, but would have been in the comic books and other advertisements related to the show.
The Spectral Shadows radio program would have been part of a general campaign to promote the idea that Holdsworth department stores were magical. But the actual store chain sponsoring the show would not have been magical at all. According to the radio concept, the store chain went out of business in the early 1950's, coinciding with the demise of the radio program.
Perri Rhoades has occasionally speculated that there might have been a 1960's TV revival of Spectral Shadows, but if so the Holdsworth's company would not have survived to sponsor it. However, the inter-dimensional department store would have been such a popular fixture for those that remembered the radio program that it would have been incorporated into the TV series as an entirely fictional department store. This would also apply to any subsequent movie versions or other types of revivals. Thus it is included in the net serial version.
When trying to think of a name for the sponsor that was similar to Woolworth's, The Author thought of guitarist Allen Holdsworth, adding yet another Progressive Rock in joke to the Spectral Shadows project.
The character of Howard Faunzel is based on similar sponsor’s representative characters from Old Time Radio, such as Harry Von Zell, which accounts for his name, though his character draws more from Harlow Wilcox.