Remembering Woolworth’s

While doing research for a story the other day, I came across a reference to Woolworth’s , and it made me remember how much fun my I had in that store as a kid. It was one of the original five-and-dime stores, known for highly discounted products, and later, its lunch counter, where milkshakes, malts and food were served. And a counter at a Woolworth’s in Greensboro, N.C. became a focal point in the fight against desegregation in 1960, when four African-American students sat down at the store’s counter and were refused service, leading to six months of sit-ins and further expansion of the civil rights movement.

My memories of Woolworth’s are less controversial, but still poignant. We’d frequent the one in Willowbrook Mall in Wayne or the location with counter service in Bloomfield Center. I remember the fun my brother and I had when we were let loose in the toys department, spending what felt like hours in the aisles, gawking at the My Little Pony dolls and G.I. Joe action figures. My grandmother was almost always with us, and we could cajole her into buying us a little something if we were good. When we got thirsty, we might get a soda or a milkshake from the lunch counter.

Woolworth’s also became the go-to place for bookbags for school. While all of my classmates were on the Jansport kick, we’d go with one of the much-cheaper versions from the store. The array was vast, and the lower-priced backpacks seemed to have more bells and whistles, too. The more zippered pockets, the better, I thought.

I remember my last backpack from there costing $15 — I bought it myself right before senior year. And I still have the last two I purchased, using them for trips and pool parties. Not to date myself, but I think the nearly 15 years of use I’ve gotten out of them was well worth the $15 price tag!

Woolworth’s had a lot of sewing notions, too. Spools of thread, patterns, needles — whatever you needed, they had it for a resonable price.

Sure, there were other five-and-dime stores out there — Kresge’s was popular, and there were also McCrory’s and J.J. Newberry’s locations around New Jersey. But Woolworth’s will always stand out in my mind as a happy memory of a discount store with personality.

5 comments to Remembering Woolworth’s

  • Sally

    So true!! Used to love this store as a kid, I am intrrested in buying the backpacks the ones they used to sell at woolworths if your interested in selling I’ll sure take it odd your hands please email me !!!! Thanks so much !!!! Look forward to hearing from u
    if any Woolworth shopper has one and wants to sell please reply thanks 🙂 have a great week

  • RainyDaySaver

    @eemusings: I know! But your Woolworth's isn't owned by the same company as ours was.

  • eemusings

    That's funny – Woolworth's here is a pricey, high end supermarket 🙂

  • RainyDaySaver

    @Casey: Imagine if there still literally were five & dime(ten) stores? Our grandmothers would be in their glory.

    @Dan: Ouch.

    @Karen: I liked that they had all of the crafting/sewing stuff, but I was too young to appreciate it. Hard to find that stuff now, even many of the specialty stores have closed.

    @Moneyfunk: I got my flannels at Sears! 😉

  • […] having a Trapper Keeper or two and lots of unicorn-plastered Lisa Frank folders. Instead, I went to Woolworth’s with my $20 bill and got a backpack for about $15, and it lasted me a few years. The big secret? I […]

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