Cover image for Remembering Woolworth's : a nostalgic history of the world's most famous five-and-dime
Remembering Woolworth's : a nostalgic history of the world's most famous five-and-dime
Plunkett-Powell, Karen.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : St. Martin's Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
248 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 24 cm
Corporate Subject:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
HF5465.U6 W864 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks
HF5465.U6 W864 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
HF5465.U6 W864 1999 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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Millions of Americans have fond memories of shopping at Woolworth's, wandering the aisles in search of a humble spool Woolco thread, festive Christmas decorations, a goldfish or parakeet, or a blue bottle of Evening in Paris perfume. And who could forget the special treat of grilled-cheese sandwich or ice-cream sundae at the famous lunch counter?

These and countless other memories are celebrated in Remembering Woolworth's . Packed with photos, first-hand remembrances, vivid anecdotes, and a lively, well-researched narrative, the book tells the story of how a poor potato farmer named Frank Woolworth created a merchandising empire that touched the lives of Americans in small towns, big cities, and everywhere in between. Chapters cover the store's humble beginnings, surviving the Great Depression, the civil rights sit-ins, Woolworth's around the globe, the popularity of Woolworth's collectibles, and much more.

Author Notes

Karen Plunkett-Powel is the author of The Nancy Drew Scrapbook and the coauthor of Home Design from the Inside-Out . She has published two award-winning plays and hundreds of articles. A resident of the New Jersey shore, she is at work on several other pop culture projects. She can be reached at P.O. Box 3128, Sea Bright, NJ 07760 or by e-mail at

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The same concept that Wal-Mart, Target, and other superstores follow today--offer great variety at affordable prices--was pioneered by Woolworth's. Unfortunately, that same concept eventually killed the five-and-dime when the superstores drew consumers away from Main Street with promises of bigger, better, and cheaper. Plunkett-Powell pays loving tribute to the way things were for 118 years after Frank W. Woolworth pioneered the affordable variety store format. With vintage photos, sporting time-capsule memories of customers throughout the years, and with time lines of Frank Woolworth's progress, the author brings in the historical aspects of the stores. For instance, the Woolworth Building in New York City was the world's tallest skyscraper at one time. And those same red soda-fountain stools where many young teens first met their sweethearts were also where, in Greensboro, North Carolina, the first civil rights sit-ins occurred. The author's affection for Woolworth's is manifest in her interesting chapters recounting its place in the Depression and during the two world wars. There is even a chapter on Woolworth's collectibles. --Joe Collins

Library Journal Review

The rags-to-riches story of Frank Winfield Woolworth and his worldwide chain came to an end in 1997, as the last of the Woolworth's stores closed their doors after 118 years of operation. Across America, this closing had a huge emotional impact on countless shoppers accustomed to the finery of the five and dime, a concept of merchandising invented by Woolworth. Plunkett-Powell (The Nancy Drew Scrapbook) presents a colorful, nostalgic remembrance of this fascinating business, from its beginnings in 1879 through the Depression and the war years, the tumultuous Sixties and the pivotal Civil Rights lunch counter sit-ins, to its latter days of redirection and ultimate finale. While an economic analysis of the retailing empire's rise and fall is definitely lacking, this warmly written treatise will serve all public libraries, especially in those communities that can still recall when their own red-front Woolworth's was open.--Dale F. Farris, Groves, TX (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. vii
Nickel Parakeets and Grilled Cheese: Welcome to the World's Most Famous Five-and-Dimep. viii
Part 1 Remembering Frank Winfield Woolworth: The Merchant Prince
Chapter 1 Early Years of the Merchant Princep. 18
Chapter 2 The Birth of Woolworth's "Great Five-Cent Store"p. 28
Chapter 3 Frank Sires a Million-Dollar Baby in Pennsylvaniap. 44
Chapter 4 The March of "Five-and-Dimes"p. 60
Chapter 5 Reaching for the Sky: The Great Woolworth Buildingp. 83
Part 2 Remembering Woolworth's ... Around the World
Chapter 6 Woolworth's Internationalp. 100
Chapter 7 Transition: From History to Nostalgiap. 130
Part 3 Remembering ... The Stores!
Chapter 8 Those Fabulous Lunch Counters!p. 140
Chapter 9 A Store for All Seasonsp. 166
Chapter 10 The Spectacle of Woolworth'sp. 184
Chapter 11 Woolworth's Coast to Coastp. 199
Part 4 Preserving the Legacy
Chapter 12 The Collectibles!p. 226
Selected Bibliographyp. 241
Indexp. 243