space
space
Peshtigo Times
space
space
space
Perspectives
* Country Cousin
space
space
Sports Shorts
* WIAA Crowns Four State Spring Baseball Champions
* Multiple Marines Awarded Spring Post-Season Honors
* Bulldogs Picked for Packerland Honors In Three Spring Sports
* Little River Hosts Fathers Day Scramble
* Marinette/Menominee Open Summer Seasons with Wins

space
Peshtigo Fire
space
e-Edition
Now Available
For more information
click here
dot
THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
space
dot
space

From My Window

Issue Date: March 15, 2017

Five and Dime

By Jane Thibodeau Martin,

I have done a lot of long-distance driving the last few years. As I look out the car window, one of the things I notice is how even tiny little rural towns, from Wisconsin down to Texas, have a store called some variation of "Dollar." A cross-roads town may have one gas station/convenience store, one church, one diner, and not much else; but if it has the first three businesses it probably has a "Dollar" variant store.

For a while I found this rather perplexing until I remembered that this niche has always existed in small town America, but by other names. It was one of my "Blinding Glimpses of the Obvious" or BGO's, that these dollar store chain fills the role that used to be occupied by stores like "Ben Franklin."

So a little journey down memory lane for those of you who are around my age or older; and a little local history for you young folks.

Peshtigo had a Ben Franklin on Main Street for many years. The inventory was similar to what Dollar type stores carry now " notions, odds and ends, basic groceries and home supplies, and even a few items of clothing. If you were desperate for a child's birthday party gift; if you forgot the paper plates for your picnic; or you just moved into your first apartment and needed inexpensive kitchen utensils and a waste basket, they got you covered, and without a long drive. I have many fond memories of the Peshtigo Ben Franklin " they had a very large penny candy section, and your choices were bagged up in tiny little brown paper bags. You could go in with a quarter and come out with a generous single-serving bag of potato chips; a nice-sized candy bar; and five pieces of penny candy for that coin. The clerks probably got pretty irritated by the line of children agonizing over their choices, and conducting these endless small transactions at the register.

Ben Franklin was a family chain, like most of the original department stores and five and dimes. It was founded in 1877 by a family named Butler, and at one time there were more than 2500 stores in the U.S. Famous retailer Sam Walton got his start at a Ben Franklin. The chain went through bankruptcy in 1996-7 and what is left is now owned by Promotions Unlimited headquartered in Mount Pleasant, Wisconsin, interestingly enough. There are about 118 stores left under the original name, with ten of those stores in Wisconsin. I remember there being a Ben Franklin in Peshtigo, Oconto, and Oconto Falls, and there were probably more in and close to the Marinette County area. I do not remember when the Peshtigo store went out of business, but I am sure it was deeply missed when it did.

Marinette had a store that sort of filled the void between Lauerman's powerhouse department store and a Ben Franklin. It was on Main Street only a block or so away from Lauerman's. It was called "Woolworth's." A man named Frank Woolworth started the stores in 1879 and at one time it was the biggest and most successful five and dime chain in the U.S. It went totally out of business in the United States in 1997 but apparently there are still some stores under this name in Europe. My childhood recollection of the store is it was a little bit bigger and maybe higher quality than a Ben Franklin, but with similar merchandise selections; but it also had a lunch counter, much like the one Lauerman's had. There was a soda fountain with a counter and stools for seating, and a couple of booths up in front where you could look out at Main Street and watch the traffic and pedestrians pass by. (If you want a real hoot, you can actually see the images of the Woolworth's menu, featuring 80 cent hamburger platters with fries and "tulip sundaes" for 35 cents, by googling "Woolworth's lunch counter menu.") It's fascinating. Woolworth's is famous in civil rights circles for a historic protest in Greensboro, N.C. when four black Americans tried to sit at the segregated lunch counter. (A good history lesson for all of us to reflect on such a discriminatory rule.) One of my favorite regular buys at Woolworth's was three 45 r.p.m. single records for a dollar.

If you went a little further along Main Street on the same side, there was a store called "The Bell Store," which sounds like another family name. I could find nothing at all on the internet on the Bell Store but I know I am correct about the name. That probably means it was local only, and never became a chain. I recently unpacked my 32 year old wedding gown, preparatory to sending it to a store that specializes in supplying brides with limited income wedding dresses. My dress was carefully packed in many sheets of blue tissue paper in a big cardboard box by the cleaner who took care of it the week after my wedding, and the box it was in had the Bell Store name and address on it. I recall that store has having very high ceilings, with a second floor at the very end of the building which is where the clerks sat and made change and issued hand-written receipts for the sales staff down below. The merchandise was displayed in racks but also on top of lots of large, square or rectangular tables at waist height. It reminded me of Lauerman's only smaller and more focused on clothing without the additional departments Lauerman's had, like furniture and hardware. I also remember it had an "air" about it which caused small children like me to understand a level of decorum was expected if you were in there, and if you didn't demonstrate that, your mother could expect "the look" from a clerk. Back in those days there was no background music in stores so if you raised your voice even a tiny bit, it got noticed.

For those of you curious about Lauerman's an author named Michael Leannah wrote an affectionate book about that locally famous store called "Something for Everybody." If you were a customer of Lauerman's with fond memories of the elevator operator, you might enjoy reading it. I know for many years there was an active social network of people who worked at Lauerman's during its heyday, and that got together frequently to reminisce. I find that charming.

So while Wolworth's five and dime and Lauerman's department store are long gone; and Ben Franklin is just a remnant of what it once was, the Dollar variant stores give us a local option without a long drive and without doing on-line shopping. The way the retail industry changes, someday our own children may remember the Dollar variant stores the same sentimental way I remember the local stores of the late 50's and very early 60's, although to me the dollar stores have none of the charms I remember.

You can reach me for commentary, alternative viewpoints or ideas at this e-mail address: Janiethibmartin@gmail.com.




Recent stories, opinions and photos

Issue Date Department Headline
06-22-2018Sports
WIAA Crowns Four State Spring Baseball Champions

06-22-2018
Peshtigo High School softball team members, Madi Martin and Shae Tonn were chosen to play in the Division 2/3 game held on June 12

06-21-2018Front Page
Marinette County Breakfast on the Farm is June 24th

06-21-2018Front Page
Kass Resigns County Finance Director Post

06-21-2018Front Page
Peshtigo Police Chief Resigns, Moving Back To Michigan

06-21-2018Front Page
Infrastructure Committee Wants To Move Back To Peshtigo Shop

06-21-2018Front Page
Kiosk At Riverside Cemetery To Help Identify Grave Sites

06-21-2018Community - Coleman
CHS 1943-65 Class Reunion is July 15th

06-21-2018Community - Coleman
Car Show Vendor Deadline June 25

06-21-2018Community - Coleman
Library To Host Ice Cream Social

06-21-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman Youth Basketball Camp

06-21-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz VFW Post 2063 Meets

06-21-2018Community - Crivitz
Ice Cream Social at Crivitz June 28

06-21-2018Community - Crivitz
Camp Bird Event is June 20-22

06-21-2018Community - Crivitz
M&M Area Foundation Helps Fund School Supplies

06-21-2018Community - Wausaukee
Jose Honored as Legionnaire of Year

06-21-2018Community - Wausaukee
Athelstane/Silver Cliff Legion Post 66 To Meet June 23

06-21-2018Community - Wausaukee
Harvest Dinner at Presbyterian Church

06-21-2018Community - Wausaukee
Blood Drive at Silver Cliff Rescue

06-21-2018Obituaries
Shirley J. Behnke

06-21-2018Obituaries
Eunice R. Borst

06-21-2018Obituaries
Betty M. Dettloff

06-21-2018Obituaries
June E. Diercks

06-21-2018Obituaries
Elizabeth L. Downs

06-21-2018Obituaries
Edith Franzen

06-21-2018Obituaries
Edna M. Garon

06-21-2018Obituaries
Mary Louise Gauld

06-21-2018Obituaries
Thomas A. Gilligan

06-21-2018Obituaries
Mary C. Gocht

06-21-2018Obituaries
Peggy Madden

06-21-2018Obituaries
Gerald F. Wescher

06-21-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin

06-21-2018Perspectives
From My Window

06-21-2018Perspectives
From our Readers

06-21-2018Sports
Multiple Marines Awarded Spring Post-Season Honors

06-21-2018Sports
Bulldogs Picked for Packerland Honors In Three Spring Sports

06-21-2018
Martin/Tonn Play in WFSCA All Star Game

06-21-2018Sports
Little River Hosts Fathers Day Scramble

06-14-2018Front Page
Coleman Annexes Property For Cheese Factory Project

06-14-2018Front Page
Pound Fireman's Picnic, Car Show Both In June

06-14-2018Front Page
Environmental Groups Pledge To Continue Back Forty Fight

06-14-2018Front Page
PFAS Found At Tyco Stanton Street Facility

06-14-2018Front Page
Grover Residents Advised To Keep Fire Signs Visible

06-14-2018Community - Coleman
Renovation Tour On Coleman School Board June 18 Agenda

06-14-2018Community - Coleman
Village Pound Car Show is June 30th

06-14-2018Community - Coleman
Continue to Feature Cougar Walls of Fame

06-14-2018Community - Coleman
4th Annual Craft, Vendor Fair at Equity Park June 16

06-14-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Junior High Students Attain Honors

06-14-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Legion Run for Recovery

06-14-2018
Ice Cream Social at Crivitz June 28

06-14-2018Community - Crivitz
Monthly CPR Class at Crivitz Clinic

06-14-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Announces 4th Quarter Honor Roll

06-14-2018Community - Wausaukee
Alee Aragon Addresses Auxiliary

06-14-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Back to School Program Receives $3,000

06-14-2018Community - Wausaukee
WBA Sponsors Farmers Market

06-14-2018Sports
Marinette/Menominee Open Summer Seasons with Wins

06-14-2018
Area Golfers Receive GCAW Academic All State Honors

06-14-2018Sports
Five High Schools Claim WIAA State Softball Titles

06-14-2018Sports
Busy Season For Marinette Parks & Rec & Public Works

06-14-2018Perspectives
From My Window

06-14-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin

06-14-2018Perspectives
From Our Readers

06-07-2018Sports
WIAA Softball State Tourney Starts June 7

06-07-2018Sports
Area Golfers Battle Through Tough State Course

06-07-2018Sports
Peshtigo's Rauch Captures D2 State Pole Vault Title

06-07-2018Sports
Coleman/Wausaukee Bow Out In Sectionals

06-07-2018Perspectives
From Our Readers

06-07-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin

06-07-2018Perspectives
From My Window

06-07-2018Obituaries
Richard L. Dantinne

06-07-2018Obituaries
Mildred Donlevy 

06-07-2018Obituaries
Clara (Wasmund) Druckrey

06-07-2018Obituaries
John F. Egofske

06-07-2018Obituaries
Dixie K. Gard

06-07-2018Obituaries
Lila M. Hallada

06-07-2018Obituaries
Myron C. Klika

06-07-2018Obituaries
Donald D. Kroening

06-07-2018Obituaries
Kent W. Lantow

06-07-2018Obituaries
John W. Lesniak

06-07-2018Obituaries
Marsha A. Lindgren

06-07-2018Obituaries
Beth M. Mireau

06-07-2018Obituaries
Bonnie R. Berton-Neumeyer

06-07-2018Obituaries
Nancy J. Prange

06-07-2018Obituaries
Bruce E. Ranzinger

06-07-2018Obituaries
Ellen M. Raygo

06-07-2018Obituaries
Kathryn Schahczinski

06-07-2018Obituaries
Russell L. Schwartz

06-07-2018Obituaries
Kenneth J. VanDreel

06-07-2018Obituaries
John P. Wingers

06-07-2018Obituaries
Leonard F. Wirkus

06-07-2018Community - Wausaukee
Church Rummage Sale/Cook Out

06-07-2018Community - Wausaukee
SC Fire-Rescue to Plan Picnic

06-07-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Class of 1988 Reunion on Aug. 18

06-07-2018Community - Crivitz
Ice Cream Social at Crivitz June 28

06-07-2018Community - Crivitz
Meeting for Girl Scouts at Crivitz

06-07-2018Community - Crivitz
Woman's Club Pop-Up Sale

06-07-2018Community - Coleman
Village Pound Car Show is June 30th

06-07-2018Community - Coleman
Pound Fire Picnic Dates June 15-16

06-07-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman Utility Board To Meet

06-07-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman Schools List Summer Office Hours

06-07-2018Front Page
New Brazeau Building Honors Elizabeth Washebek

06-07-2018Front Page
Final Permit Issued For Back Forty Mine

06-07-2018Front Page
Peshtigo Council Approves 1% Hike In Water Rates

06-07-2018Front Page
Late Season Snow Blamed For City Recreation Issues

06-07-2018Front Page
Town Peshtigo Airs Road, Billing Issues

05-31-2018Perspectives
From My Window

05-31-2018Sports
Rangers/Badgers Face Off in Regional Final Today

05-31-2018Sports
Rangers Are Last Team Standing on Tournament Trail

05-31-2018Sports
Area Athletes Head To State Meet In LaCrosse

05-31-2018Sports
Peshtigo Takes Perfect Record To State

05-31-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-31-2018Obituaries
Earl J. Alsteen

05-31-2018Obituaries
Elizabeth L. Anglehart

05-31-2018Obituaries
James A. Benesh

05-31-2018Obituaries
Paul R. Berntson

05-31-2018Obituaries
Dale R. Borneman

05-31-2018Obituaries
Robert F. Brown, Jr.

05-31-2018Obituaries
Norman Buhrandt

05-31-2018Obituaries
Roberta C. Couillard

05-31-2018Obituaries
Richard Deschaine

05-31-2018Obituaries
Karen and Dennis Fry

05-31-2018Obituaries
Raymond A. Gorman

05-31-2018Obituaries
Glenn G. Harris

05-31-2018Obituaries
Charles W. Hatton 

05-31-2018Obituaries
Stella M. Horvath

05-31-2018Obituaries
Patricia A. Johnston

05-31-2018Obituaries
Sandra S. Kasik

05-31-2018Obituaries
Carol L. Klein

05-31-2018Obituaries
Arlie K. Manning

05-31-2018Obituaries
Patrice L. Messenger

05-31-2018Obituaries
Laurie Nicklaus

05-31-2018Obituaries
Helen M. Peterson

05-31-2018Obituaries
Rita Peterson

05-31-2018Obituaries
Jacqueline Rudolph

05-31-2018Obituaries
Gertrude Tetzlaff

05-31-2018Obituaries
William M. Thierling

05-31-2018Obituaries
Joy M. Van Hecke

05-31-2018Obituaries
Daniel D. VanHoff

05-31-2018Obituaries
Ramon G. Varrientos

05-31-2018Obituaries
Leonard J. Williams

05-31-2018Community - Wausaukee
Seven Red Cross Scholarship Winners

05-31-2018Community - Wausaukee
 Wausuakee Lions Big Cash Raffle

05-31-2018Community - Wausaukee
WBA Farmers Market New Location This Year

05-31-2018Community - Crivitz
Sports Awards Winners At Crivitz High School

05-31-2018
NE WI Kids Fishing Outing July 7 at Laona

05-31-2018Community - Crivitz
Lions Golf Scramble at Crivitz June 2nd

05-31-2018Community - Crivitz
De Smidt's Awards Four Scholarships

05-31-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman Village Board June 4

05-31-2018Community - Coleman
4th Annual Craft, Vendor Fair at Equity Park June 16

05-31-2018Community - Coleman
Pound Fire Dept. Picnic July 15-16


space
Peshtigo Times
WEB Poll!
Do you think the Green Bay Packers will make it to the Super Bowl this year.
space Yes
No
Undecided
space
TO VOTE CLICK
YES, NO or UNDECIDED

Suggest a Question
space .
space
FRONT
space
.
space
CLASSIFIEDS
space
.
space
COMMUNITY
space
.
space
GUEST BOOK
space
.
space
NEWS
space
.
space
OBITS
space
.
space
PERSPECTIVES
space
.
space
SPORTS
space
.
space
SUBSCRIBE
space
.
space
.
space
PESHTIGO FIRE
space
.
space
CUSTOM PRINTING
space
.
space
TIMES' SAVER
space
.
space
Click for Peshtigo, Wisconsin Forecast
FORECAST
space
Quick...
News or Ad Search
Enter News key words.
Enter Ad key words.



Peshtigo Times
841 Maple St
PO Box 187
Peshtigo, WI 54157
Phone: 715-582-4541
Email:
News@
PeshtigoTimes.com

space
Fax: 715-582-4662
© 2000-2018
All right reserved
space
Powered by
WEB Media
Interactive
COMMUNITY
WEB sites