Farewell, Woolworth’s


No matter where they live in the country, anyone over the age of 50 can tell you what used to be in this building. It was an F.W. Woolworth five and dime. All the stores used the same weird brick color, few windows, except on the first floor, that housed a spectacle of consumer wants in its day. In my town, I grew up with a five-and-dime tri-fecta — a Woolworth’s, next to a W.T. Grant’s, across the street from an S.S. Kresge (the forerunner of KMart). Of course, they’re all gone now, along with the 10-cent hot dog and the fish department.

Why is this in the news? Woolworth’s in downtown St. Paul closed in 1993. Because the big story in the UK today is Woolworth’s is going under, and the big story on this side of the Atlantic is that people are finding out there still is a Woolworth’s.

The British government today refused to intervene to prop up the retailer, which is a descendant of the F.W. Woolworth chain, but has been separate since 1982.

Still, the news brings back memories and prompted a stop at the Seventh Place location in St. Paul where I found the last remnants of the “get lost” spirit that the doomed retailer possessed in its latter days.