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Five and Dimes Were the Main Stay of Main Street for Generations

Frank Woolworth opened his first store in 1878 with a more successful store opened only 1 year later. Woolworth’s pioneered the concept of a five and dime store, with fixed prices drawing in crowds of customers. Variety stores began popping up across America, becoming a staple of Main Street.

The Five and Dime Stores We Remember So Well

Woolworth’s and Kresge stores side by side, downtown Muskegon, MI, 1950s. Via/ Flickr

Attractive displays and revolutionary business practices gave shoppers an experience like never before, a far cry from the general stores of the past, where much of the stock had to be pulled from behind the counter or from bulk bins.

The Five and Dime Stores We Remember So Well

Stationary section in the Woolworth’s store, St. Paul, 1964. Via/ Flickr

Sebastian Kresge and John McCrory opened their version of the dime store in Memphis, TN, in 1897. Just 15 years after he first went into business, Kresge’s company was worth $7M and had 85 stores!

The Five and Dime Stores We Remember So Well

Kress store, Miami, 1951. Via/ Flickr

The Five and Dime Stores We Remember So Well

Kresge store at Christmas time with lunch counter in the background. Via/ Flickr

By 1910, Frank Woolworth had made millions and embarked on building the world’s tallest skyscraper in New York City, the construction of which he paid for in cold, hard cash. In reality, Woolworth’s only occupied 1 and a half floors of the ornate Woolworth’s Building, but it was a symbol of the incredible success of the company.

The Five and Dime Stores We Remember So Well

The Woolworth’s Building in 1923, ten years after construction was finished, at the time still the tallest building in the world. Via/ Library of Congress

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