space
space
Peshtigo Times
space
space
space
Perspectives
* Country Cousin
space
space
Sports Shorts
* Sportsman's Club Summer Trap Results
* Suring Claims Regional Crowns; Sectional Set for Thursday
* Coleman Claims Conference Crown
* Post-Season Baseball Begins Thursday
* Bulldogs Win Second Straight M&O Golf Title

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

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
05-24-2017Sports
Sportsman's Club Summer Trap Results

05-24-2017Sports
Suring Claims Regional Crowns; Sectional Set for Thursday

05-24-2017Sports
Coleman Claims Conference Crown

05-24-2017Sports
Post-Season Baseball Begins Thursday

05-24-2017Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-24-2017Perspectives
From our readers

05-24-2017Perspectives
From My Window

05-24-2017Obituaries
Joyce Schroeder

05-24-2017Obituaries
Curtis R. Larsen

05-24-2017Obituaries
Joseph L. Kwasny, Jr.

05-24-2017Obituaries
Sandra M. Jarvey

05-24-2017Obituaries
Eleanor C. Brooks

05-24-2017Obituaries
William "Bill" Borkowski,

05-24-2017Obituaries
Isabel M. Williams

05-24-2017Obituaries
Brendalee E. Watkins

05-24-2017Obituaries
Gene G. Voelker

05-24-2017Obituaries
Priscilla A. Thomson

05-24-2017Obituaries
Genevieve O. Suennen

05-24-2017Obituaries
Shirley Sonnenberg

05-24-2017Obituaries
Raymond A. Schultz

05-24-2017Obituaries
Connie G. Schuettpelz

05-24-2017Obituaries
Gloria A. Reynen

05-24-2017Obituaries
Edward A. Oehler

05-24-2017Obituaries
Peter J. Nerenhausen

05-24-2017Obituaries
Crystal Marohl

05-24-2017Obituaries
Jerry L. Lewis

05-24-2017Obituaries
Ruth A. Lasecki

05-24-2017Obituaries
Joseph O. Kershek, Jr.

05-24-2017Obituaries
Lawrence A. Heim

05-24-2017Obituaries
Marian J. Diemer

05-24-2017Obituaries
James Burmeister

05-24-2017Obituaries
Linda L. Ballard

05-24-2017Obituaries
Ruth Legault

05-24-2017Obituaries
Jane M. Albers

05-24-2017Community - Wausaukee
Athelstane Church Rummage Sale May 27

05-24-2017Community - Wausaukee
Legion Unit 66 Sets Memorial Day Plans

05-24-2017Community - Wausaukee
Great North Bank Ranger Bank Winners

05-24-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Legion Memorial Day Services May 29th

05-24-2017Community - Crivitz
Family Education Event at Northwoods

05-24-2017Community - Crivitz
Loomis Historical Meeting on June 1

05-24-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz High School Ranked 56th of Over 500 Schools

05-24-2017Community - Crivitz
Zoning Board Request Village Change Ordinance Footage

05-24-2017Community - Coleman
Live Music at CHS Classes Reunion

05-24-2017Community - Coleman
Little Free Library Now in Coleman

05-24-2017Community - Coleman
10th Annual Village Pound Car Show June 24th

05-24-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman School Plans Benefit for Teacher

05-24-2017Front Page
Ground Breaking for New Community Rec Center

05-24-2017Front Page
Grant Hearing On County Board May 30 Agenda

05-24-2017Front Page
Oconto County Rejects Variance For B & D Dairy

05-24-2017Front Page
To Present School Needs Study Proposals May 24

05-24-2017Front Page
Oconto County To Take LEC Ownership May 26

05-17-2017Obituaries
Betty J. Beschta

05-17-2017Obituaries
Richard L. Cairns, Jr.

05-17-2017Obituaries
Gary L. Currie

05-17-2017Obituaries
Debra D. Edlebeck

05-17-2017Obituaries
Ellen Francois

05-17-2017Obituaries
Laurence A. Greening

05-17-2017Obituaries
Kay Grenier

05-17-2017Obituaries
Hilton R. Huncosky

05-17-2017Obituaries
Irene J. Kelly

05-17-2017Obituaries
Dennis J. Larsen

05-17-2017Obituaries
Mitchel J. Long

05-17-2017Obituaries
Rosalie A. Nichols

05-17-2017Obituaries
Norman Paul

05-17-2017Obituaries
Rodger Phillips

05-17-2017Obituaries
Jane E. Reschke

05-17-2017Obituaries
Katherine E. Sauld

05-17-2017Obituaries
Linda L. Sevon

05-17-2017Obituaries
Erna Splingaire

05-17-2017Obituaries
Janice L. Storrm

05-17-2017Obituaries
Marie Tomaszewski

05-17-2017Obituaries
Doris E. Vieth

05-17-2017Obituaries
Thomas L. Vieth

05-17-2017Sports
Bulldogs Win Second Straight M&O Golf Title

05-17-2017Sports
Peshtigo Boys, Suring Girls Repeat as M&O Champions

05-17-2017Sports
Coleman Can Clinch Title Against Niagara

05-17-2017Sports
Coleman Adds Another M&O Title to Banner

05-17-2017Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-17-2017Perspectives
From Our Readers

05-17-2017Perspectives
From My Window

05-17-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Town Board Okays Committee Members

05-17-2017Community - Wausaukee
Town Athelstane To Buy Compactor for Recycling

05-17-2017Community - Wausaukee
Town Wagner Gets Update on Permit Process Changes

05-17-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Graduation Ceremony is May 21

05-17-2017Community - Crivitz
Pelkin's Meat Market Voluntary Recalls Sausage

05-17-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Memorial Day Starts at M I Cemetery

05-17-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Legion PTSD 5K Run/ 1 Mile Walk

05-17-2017Community - Crivitz
CBA Urges Businesses, Groups To List Events

05-17-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman Fire Buys Equipmen

05-17-2017Community - Coleman
10th Annual Village Pound Car Show June 24th

05-17-2017Community - Coleman
Pound Woman's Club Holds Banquet May 9

05-17-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman High School 2017 Graduation May 27

05-17-2017Front Page
Law Enforcement Memorial at Marinette May 16th

05-17-2017Front Page
Wausaukee Is Looking At Possible New Well

05-17-2017Front Page
Wage Study Unveiled For Personnel Committee

05-17-2017Front Page
Peshtigo Finance Considers Rate Review of Fees

05-17-2017Front Page
Middle Inlet Considers Sex Offender Ordinance

05-10-2017Sports
AREA GOLF

05-10-2017Sports
AREA TRACK & FIELD

05-10-2017Sports
M&O Softball

05-10-2017Sports
M&O Baseball

05-10-2017Obituaries
Darlene Wright 

05-10-2017Obituaries
Virginia E. Wilson

05-10-2017Obituaries
Kimberly J. Trepanier

05-10-2017Obituaries
Patrick A. Tobin

05-10-2017Obituaries
Walter Sucharsky

05-10-2017Obituaries
Ruth L. Rose

05-10-2017Obituaries
LeRoy H. Otto

05-10-2017Obituaries
James Lauerman

05-10-2017Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-10-2017Obituaries
Faye I. Larsen

05-10-2017Obituaries
Christian J. Kenney

05-10-2017Obituaries
Richard W. Hartman

05-10-2017Obituaries
Janet G. Groleau

05-10-2017Obituaries
Bernard A. Donlevy

05-10-2017Obituaries
Melvin H. Dausey

05-10-2017Obituaries
Sharon N. Belanger

05-10-2017Obituaries
Richard E. Brevitz

05-10-2017Obituaries
Renee M. Radtke

05-10-2017Perspectives
From our readers

05-10-2017Perspectives
From My Window

05-10-2017Obituaries
Karen D. Philipps

05-10-2017Obituaries
Priscilla Nielsen

05-10-2017Obituaries
Thomas O. Meyer

05-10-2017Obituaries
Karen J. Marineau

05-10-2017Obituaries
Marion J. LaFever

05-10-2017Community - Wausaukee
WPS Helps Wausaukee Students Plant Trees

05-10-2017Obituaries
Ronald A. Laabs

05-10-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Rescue Had 20 Runs In April

05-10-2017Community - Wausaukee
Athelstane/Silver Cliff Unit 66 Lists Two Badger State Girls

05-10-2017Obituaries
Cassidy M. Krische

05-10-2017Community - Wausaukee
Open House at SC Fire, Rescue in May

05-10-2017Obituaries
Dorothy L. Hoeffler

05-10-2017Obituaries
Patricia A. Hestand

05-10-2017Obituaries
Cynthia R. Etersky 

05-10-2017Community - Crivitz
Stickmann at Municipal Judge Orientation & Institute

05-10-2017Obituaries
Willington "Bill" DeTemple Sr.

05-10-2017Obituaries
Corliss L. Castello

05-10-2017Obituaries
Beatrice M. Brzezinski

05-10-2017Community - Crivitz
Town of Stephenson Committees Held Meets

05-10-2017Obituaries
Russell R. Allen

05-10-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Post Office to Stamp out Hunger

05-10-2017Community - Crivitz
2017 Crivitz High School Graduation is May 20th

05-10-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman Legion Hosts Memorial Day Program

05-10-2017Community - Coleman
Village of Pound Car Show Set for June 24

05-10-2017Community - Coleman
Community Rummage Sale Slated May 19, 20

05-10-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman High School 2017 Graduation May 27

05-10-2017Front Page
LEGION HONORS TIMM

05-10-2017Front Page
Name Cleereman To Head County Land Information

05-10-2017Front Page
County Plans To End Park Day Use Fees


space
Peshtigo Times
WEB Poll!
Do you think President Trump being tough with North Korea is the thing to do?
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
© 2000-2017
All right reserved
space
Powered by
WEB Media
Interactive
COMMUNITY
WEB sites