Dollar Stores and the Old 5 and 10’s

23 Oct

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Ever since the proliferation of dollar stores began I have thought about the 5 and 10′s that once upon a time were the flagships of small town commercial areas. Woolworth and Kresge were everywhere. They were the people’s stores,offering everything thing from window shades to sewing notions. Miniature department stores without the glitz and glamour of high-end retail. I bought my first goldfish and turtle from a 5 and 10 as well as model cars,( every time I had two bucks in my pocket) As I matured my 5 and 10 tastes turned to the record departments and a plate of French fries and a cherry coke at the counter. I will never forget the much-loved photo booth, as we tried to cram as many friends in at once for a group shot. There was no stigma attached to shopping them, they were what they were, something for everyone at an affordable price.


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As time moved on into the 60’s they either morphed into discount stores like Kmart (which was Kresge’s) or disappeared completely by the 70’s. No more lunch counters, no photo booths, no more cherry cokes. They were all lost due to suburban development that allowed for shopping centers and vast discounters like Korvettes, Two Guys and ironically the Kmarts. Discount fever gripped the nation, as well as huge parking lots.

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The 70’s were the darkest period for urban centers and older fringe communities as the flight to the suburbs continued. The 80’s weren’t any better as downtown department stores closed and retail went into a downward spiral.

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It was the 90’s that brought a change. General merchandise stores started popping up in urban areas that once played host to those 5 and 10’s. Some even operating out of the same space once held by a 5 and 10. They were a mess, merchandise bought off price and thrown in. No departments, no consistency of product, what ever was available was what they sold. Poor quality goods CHEAP.

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As in all retail competition makes for better stores. The recession brought about more companies, competing for your dollar. The past twenty years have seen the Dollar store concept mature into the 5 and 10 of old. Their supply chains have matured,but unfortunately China is their major wholesaler,no more occupied Japan no, made in theUSA, all due to the dollar store. The average family in the states has little choice but to shop where the price fits their budget. The most successful dollar stores now have consistent departments for every need, just like Woolworth’s. The lunch counter has been replaced by dairy cases and grocery, record departments have become phone cases and headphones, goldfish are now by Pepperidge Farm and turtles are chocolate covered.

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Although they have improved and are now a permanent fixture on the retail scene, they just can’t provide the entertainment factor of the old 5 and 10’s. Hanging with friends at the counter eating fries, shooting gum tipped straws at the ceiling and seeking immortality in a photo booth.

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