Back In The Day, Five And Dimes Could Be Found On Every Main Street
Nowadays, most of us don’t think twice about walking into a Walmart or Target and being able to check off every single thing on our lists. From food, to clothing, to home decor, to gardening supplies, these big box stores have it all. But when the concept of a one-stop shop first came to be, it was unsurprisingly a huge excitement in people’s lives.
Way back in 1879, Frank Winfield Woolworth opened the first Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. These five-cent stores (which quickly became known as five and dime stores) were a consumer’s one-stop shop for everything they might need. From food, to toys, to stationary, to clothing, to home furnishings, these stores began enticing people away from smaller mom and pop stores. Extremely competitive pricing and the ability to purchase everything on your list in one place became a huge draw for consumers.
The popularity of these stores exploded into the early 1900s, producing the concept of the department store we know today. The amount of shoppers drove up demand, so stores brought in so much stock it needed to be separated into departments (and later, even entire floors). These stores almost always featured a lunch counter, too. Shop, socialize, and eat a good (but cheap) lunch? This model was an instant recipe for success.
Over time, huge retailers and the introduction of large drug store chains moved into the spotlight, leaving five and dimes in the dust. Depending on when you grew up, you may remember shopping in five and dime stores with your parents, or maybe you even had your first job there. It’s no wonder that five and dimes are often prominent settings of films set in the early to mid-1900s! Looking through these photos sure did bring about a huge wave of nostalgia for the old days.