space
space
Peshtigo Times
space
space
space
Perspectives
* Country Cousin
space
space
Sports Shorts
* Langlois/Wagner Head Marine All-Conference Selections
* Jacobson Tops M&O Golf Squad
* Osterberg Earns Back-to-Back Player of the Year Awards
* Kotecki/Debriyn Share Most Valuable Player
* "FORE Their Future" Schedule Announced

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
06-21-2017Community - Wausaukee
Athelstane/Silver Cliff Host co. Council ACA

06-21-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wagner Town Board To Attend Sex Offender Meet

06-21-2017Community - Wausaukee
Prayer Conference at Athelstane Church

06-21-2017Community - Wausaukee
Part of Pike River, Freele Closed for Run

06-21-2017Community - Crivitz
Northeast Asphalt Gets Wagner Cold Mix Bid

06-21-2017Community - Crivitz
Train Derailment in Village Crivitz

06-21-2017Community - Crivitz
Ladies of Faith Charity Luncheon

06-21-2017Community - Crivitz
Village Brush Disposal Taken Through June 26

06-21-2017Perspectives
Country Cousin

06-21-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman Fire Department Responds to Structure Fire

06-21-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman Lions To Sponsor Movie June 29

06-21-2017Community - Coleman
Church Has Booth During Car Show

06-21-2017Community - Coleman
10th Annual Pound Car Show June 24th

06-21-2017Perspectives
From our readers

06-21-2017Front Page
Coleman Founder, Joseph Brault Day Big Success

06-21-2017Perspectives
From My Window

06-21-2017Front Page
Expect County Pay Plan To Cost $313,385 In 2017

06-21-2017Front Page
Town of Peshtigo Names Staudenmaier Vice Chair

06-21-2017Obituaries
Kenneth B. Prestine

06-21-2017Obituaries
William Pairon

06-21-2017Front Page
Marinette County Breakfast on the Farm is June 25th

06-21-2017Obituaries
Walter T. Multerer

06-21-2017Obituaries
Richard P. Kordes

06-21-2017Front Page
Big Day Of Activities at Crivitz Tuesday, July 4th

06-21-2017Obituaries
Raymond J. Kopish

06-21-2017Obituaries
Diana Gutmann

06-21-2017Obituaries
Arthur Godin

06-21-2017Obituaries
Kenneth J. Dinse

06-21-2017Obituaries
Faye L. (Harbick) Archambault

06-21-2017Obituaries
William M. Aman

06-21-2017Sports
Langlois/Wagner Head Marine All-Conference Selections

06-21-2017Sports
Jacobson Tops M&O Golf Squad

06-21-2017Sports
Osterberg Earns Back-to-Back Player of the Year Awards

06-21-2017Sports
Kotecki/Debriyn Share Most Valuable Player

06-14-2017Sports
"FORE Their Future" Schedule Announced

06-14-2017Sports
Peshtigo Youth Fishing Tourney Is Big Success

06-14-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee 5K Run/Walk July 1

06-14-2017Sports
Area Legion Teams Take to the Diamond

06-14-2017Community - Wausaukee
SC Auxiliary Discusses Aug. 12 Picnic, Parade

06-14-2017Community - Wausaukee
Building with Plants at Library June 28

06-14-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Legion, Aux. Holds Meeting

06-14-2017Community - Coleman
Discussion on GMO Realities at Library

06-14-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman Hosts Wrestling Clinic

06-14-2017Community - Coleman
Honor Students for Coleman High School

06-14-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman School Board Lists Hirings, Resignations

06-14-2017Sports
Rangers' Playoff Run Ends in State Semifinal

06-14-2017Community - Crivitz
PTSD Run for Recovery June 24

06-14-2017Community - Crivitz
County W Work In Crivitz To Be Finished By July 4

06-14-2017Perspectives
Country Cousin

06-14-2017Community - Crivitz
Country Gospel Jam is June 16

06-14-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz May Qualify For State Emergency Aid

06-14-2017Perspectives
From our readers

06-14-2017Perspectives
From My Window

06-14-2017Obituaries
Lorraine A. Woulf

06-14-2017Obituaries
Shirley A. Redmann

06-14-2017Obituaries
Margarete B. Pichler

06-14-2017Obituaries
Keith H. Miller

06-14-2017Obituaries
Francis Kordish

06-14-2017Obituaries
Charlene V. Heimke

06-14-2017Obituaries
William V. Handle

06-14-2017Obituaries
H. David Elmer

06-14-2017Obituaries
June D. Ziech,

06-14-2017Obituaries
Virginia R. Wehrman

06-14-2017Obituaries
Charles J. Stodola

06-14-2017Obituaries
Lowell D. Rice

06-14-2017Obituaries
Genevieve E. Mahoney

06-14-2017Obituaries
Kurt E. Lundgren

06-14-2017Obituaries
Kay L. Johnson

06-14-2017Obituaries
Doreen L. Hermsen

06-14-2017Obituaries
Ruth A. Harmer

06-14-2017Obituaries
Faye Iva (Parker) Larsen and Curtis Raymond Larsen

06-14-2017Obituaries
Ralph A. Eastland

06-14-2017Obituaries
Leonard Dudkiewicz

06-14-2017Obituaries
Kathryn A. Chevalier

06-14-2017Obituaries
Kenneth "Pete" Burbey

06-14-2017Obituaries
Jeanette A. Babik

06-14-2017Front Page
STORM CLEANUP

06-14-2017Front Page
Three Towns Could Qualify for Disaster Aid After Storms Cause Power Outages, Damage

06-14-2017Front Page
Business Owners Interested in Former Porterfield School

06-14-2017Front Page
Marinette Council Tables Resolution Regarding Proposed Back Forty Mine

06-14-2017Front Page
Pound To Settle Village Paving Issues In July

06-14-2017Front Page
Marinette County Forestry Approves $1,353,612 Sale

06-07-2017Obituaries
Sandra L. Weir

06-07-2017Obituaries
Crestamari L. Walters

06-07-2017Obituaries
Rowland P. Trepanier

06-07-2017Obituaries
Virginia Surk

06-07-2017Obituaries
Peter Staal

06-07-2017Obituaries
Lawrence L. Siebers

06-07-2017Obituaries
Juanita Picard

06-07-2017Obituaries
John G. Paitl

06-07-2017Obituaries
Richard W. Netzel

06-07-2017Obituaries
Roberta F. McKenney

06-07-2017Obituaries
Tara M. Dennis

06-07-2017Obituaries
Sandy Berth

06-07-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Blood Drive is June 19

06-07-2017Community - Wausaukee
Real Communication at Wausaukee Library

06-07-2017Community - Wausaukee
SC Fire Auxiliary To Make Picnic Plans

06-07-2017Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Library Reading Program June 14

06-07-2017Community - Crivitz
2 Crivitz Teams in State YES! Contest

06-07-2017Obituaries
Eldean I. E. (Sjoquist) Wilch

06-07-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Legion Gun Show on June 17

06-07-2017Obituaries
Harold R. Wettanen

06-07-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz School Summer Hours

06-07-2017Obituaries
Nancy L. Polzin

06-07-2017Community - Crivitz
Crivitz VFW Unit Raffle Calendar Sale

06-07-2017Obituaries
Brenda L. Oleson

06-07-2017Community - Coleman
Benefit Yard Sale at Beaver June 8, 9

06-07-2017Obituaries
Vallarie Krzych

06-07-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman Utility Board June 12

06-07-2017Community - Coleman
Coleman Elementary Students Read 100 Million Words During the 2016-17 School Year

06-07-2017Obituaries
Donald H. Klumb 

06-07-2017Community - Coleman
Live Music at CHS Classes Reunion

06-07-2017Obituaries
Agnes A. Johnson

06-07-2017Obituaries
Elorine C. Hubbard

06-07-2017Front Page
Lemery Brothers Bond Through Storm Chasing

06-07-2017Obituaries
Harriet E. Beffa

06-07-2017Perspectives
Country Cousin

06-07-2017Front Page
Peshtigo Accepts Grants, Plans Old Hammes' Building Demolition

06-07-2017Front Page
Village Coleman Approves Sex Offender Ordinance

06-07-2017Front Page
Marinette Council Awards Sale of Notes for New Rec Center

06-07-2017Front Page
Sex Offender Ordinance Passes Pound Town Board

06-07-2017Perspectives
From My Window

06-07-2017Sports
WIAA STATE GOLF

06-07-2017Sports
Cougars Repeat As Division 3 Boys State Champions

06-07-2017Sports
Wausaukee Makes Fourth State Appearance

06-07-2017Sports
Coleman & Niagara Bow Out in Sectional Finals

05-31-2017Sports
WIAA State Track & Field in LaCrosse This Weekend

05-31-2017Sports
24 Area Athletes Head to State Meet in LaCrosse

05-31-2017Sports
Wausaukee Last Area Team Left Standing

05-31-2017Sports
Four Area Teams Advance To Regional Final

05-31-2017Obituaries
Mary Lou Sommerfeldt

05-31-2017Obituaries
Mavis L. Patterson

05-31-2017Obituaries
Dolores K. Morstad

05-31-2017Obituaries
Faye L. Melka

05-31-2017Obituaries
Debbie Delfosse

05-31-2017Obituaries
Susan L. Bunting

05-31-2017Obituaries
Kevin C. Anderson

05-31-2017Obituaries
Julie L. Vinson

05-31-2017Obituaries
Earl J. Skenandore

05-31-2017Obituaries
Shirley M. Ness

05-31-2017Obituaries
Victor P. Stankevich Jr.

05-31-2017Community - Wausaukee
Seek Volunteers for Goodman Music in Park

05-31-2017Obituaries
Linda Stimac

05-31-2017Obituaries
Rose M. Senn

05-31-2017Obituaries
Yvonne Rhude

05-31-2017Obituaries
Michelle M. Lentz

05-31-2017Obituaries
Robert Race

05-31-2017Community - Wausaukee
GMO Realities Talk at Library

05-31-2017Obituaries
Rita M. LaPlant

05-31-2017Obituaries
Peter V. DeRossi


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