F.W. Woolworth and the American Five and Dime
A Social History
About the Book
For more than a century, Woolworth’s five and dime stores represented Americana, mirroring the country’s growth, its good times and bad, its foibles and its fads. The chain was founded by Frank W. Woolworth, who in 1879 established two stores—one in Utica, New York, which failed and was closed down, and another in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, which succeeded and marked the beginning of the legacy of the Woolworth’s Five and Tens.
This work is a full account of the chain, its rags-to-riches founder, Frank W. Woolworth, and his flamboyant and tragic descendants. It traces the important role that Woolworth stores played in the sit-down strikes of the 1930s, the lunch counter sit-ins that began in Greensboro, North Carolina, as part of the Civil Rights movement (which tainted Woolworth’s as the Big Business enemy of the downtrodden), and the gradual disintegration of the five and tens during the 1980s and early 1990s. The dramatic story is enhanced with important photos featuring such events as the closing of a Woolworth’s in Germany by Nazi soldiers and the Greensboro sit-in as well as archival photos from Woolworth’s 40th, 50th, and 60th anniversary booklets.
About the Author(s)
The late Jean Maddern Pitrone lived in Trenton, Michigan.
Jean Maddern Pitrone
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Bibliographic Info: 39 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2007 
Table of Contents
1. The Worst Time of His Life 3
2. “The Great Five” Acquires a Family 10
3. Luxury in the Gay Nineties 21
4. The Big Push Overseas 30
5. World’s Tallest—Woolworth Skyscraper 39
6. Heartbreaking Tragedy for the Woolworths 52
7. Multi-millionaire Patriarch Dies 61
8. “Everybody’s Store” 71
9. A Grim Decade Begins 83
10. Protests, Demonstrations and Strikes 91
11. Woolworth Hit by Sit-downs 103
12. Marriages, Divorces and a Real War 116
13. Post-war Labor Problems 128
14. Approaching the Billion–dollar Sales Goal 137
15. Sit-ins Challenge Woolworth 152
16. Expansion Becomes the Byword 165
17. Struggles with the Economy 176
18. Ups and Downs of the 1980s 183
19. Nobody’s Store 189
Book Reviews & Awards
“a nice study…recommended”—Choice; “valuable…richly detailed”—The Journal of American Culture.