space
space
Peshtigo Times
space
space
space
Perspectives
* Country Cousin
space
space
Sports Shorts
* Five Area Team Qualify For Sectional Play
* Area Athletes Qualify For Sectional Competition
* Area Teams Wrap Up Regular Season's,Begin Regional Action
* Regional Tournament Play to Begin Thursday
* Peshtigo & Coleman Claim Conference Golf Titles

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
05-24-2018Obituaries
Dorothy M. Duda

05-24-2018Obituaries
Joseph J. Effert, Jr.

05-24-2018Obituaries
John W. Johnson 

05-24-2018Obituaries
Harry W. Kasten

05-24-2018Obituaries
Gerald A. Kirt

05-24-2018Obituaries
Rose L. Matekine

05-24-2018Obituaries
Carol Nordquist

05-24-2018Obituaries
Debra J. Schindler

05-24-2018Obituaries
Ellen M. Sconzert

05-24-2018Obituaries
Maxine Seefeldt

05-24-2018Obituaries
Irvin L. Tachick

05-24-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-24-2018Perspectives
From our readers

05-24-2018Perspectives
From My Window

05-24-2018Sports
Five Area Team Qualify For Sectional Play

05-24-2018Sports
Area Athletes Qualify For Sectional Competition

05-24-2018Sports
Area Teams Wrap Up Regular Season's,Begin Regional Action

05-24-2018Sports
Regional Tournament Play to Begin Thursday

05-24-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Village, Town Rummage Sale

05-24-2018Community - Wausaukee
WBA Farmers Market New Location This Year

05-24-2018
Wausaukee Greenhouse Flower, Vegetable Sale

05-24-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Blood Drive at Wausaukee June 18

05-24-2018Community - Crivitz
Distribute Poppies In Crivitz May 17-26

05-24-2018Community - Crivitz
Apostolic Church Special Services

05-24-2018Community - Crivitz
Lifetouch Photography at St. Mary, Crivitz

05-24-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Museum To Open for Season May 26

05-24-2018Community - Coleman
Pound Hillside Honors Military

05-24-2018Community - Coleman
Village Pound Car Show is June 30th

05-24-2018Community - Coleman
Yard Sale For Scholarships

05-24-2018Community - Coleman
Senior Club to Meet

05-24-2018Front Page
Crivitz High School Campus Is Now Gordon P. Rieden Learning Center

05-24-2018Front Page
County Board To Consider Stricter Mining Provisions

05-24-2018Front Page
County Board To Meet On Tuesday, May 29

05-24-2018Front Page
Peshtigo Legion To Dedicate Viet Nam Statue On Monday

05-24-2018Front Page
Teteak Family Sues County For Wrongful Death While In Jail

05-17-2018Obituaries
Roger J. Albert, Jr.

05-17-2018Obituaries
Ruby F. Anderson

05-17-2018Obituaries
Arlene F. Bintz

05-17-2018Obituaries
Wesley G. Borchert

05-17-2018Obituaries
Richard A. Bruce

05-17-2018Obituaries
Ruth A. Dixon

05-17-2018Obituaries
Thomas J. Elbe

05-17-2018Obituaries
David J. Fernstrum

05-17-2018Obituaries
Jane A. Gnabasik

05-17-2018Obituaries
Douglas E. Hudon

05-17-2018Obituaries
Vincent Jasenovsky

05-17-2018Obituaries
Ernest L. Medina

05-17-2018Obituaries
Virginia L. Mullins

05-17-2018Obituaries
Margaret Peterson

05-17-2018Obituaries
Sharon L. Saunier

05-17-2018Obituaries
Margaret L. Schroeder

05-17-2018Obituaries
Theodore R. Soderberg

05-17-2018Obituaries
Peter Sohr

05-17-2018Obituaries
Robert Thoune

05-17-2018Obituaries
Judith A. Weidemeier

05-17-2018Obituaries
Rita Wery

05-17-2018Sports
Peshtigo & Coleman Claim Conference Golf Titles

05-17-2018


05-17-2018Sports
Area Athletes Decide Conference Titles

05-17-2018Sports
Cougars Lead M&O in Final Week; Cavvies Still in Championship Hunt

05-17-2018Sports
Coleman Claims M&O; Peshtigo Tops Packerland Conference

05-17-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-17-2018Perspectives
From our readers

05-17-2018Perspectives
From My Window

05-17-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee School Board Elects Wojcik President

05-17-2018Community - Wausaukee
Athelstane OKs ATVs On Northway Drive

05-17-2018Community - Wausaukee
Town Wausaukee Lists Committees Retained

05-17-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Village, Town Rummage Sale

05-17-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Announces Memorial Day Rites

05-17-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Legion Plans Trap Shoot May 26

05-17-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Special Ed Field Day May 16

05-17-2018Community - Crivitz
Lifetouch Photography at St. Mary, Crivitz

05-17-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman High School Graduation is May 19

05-17-2018Community - Coleman
1958 Coleman Class Plans June 22 Reunion

05-17-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman Legion Post 280 Memorial Day Program

05-17-2018Community - Coleman
Bond Center Offers Swimming

05-17-2018Front Page
Local Officials Participate in Law Enforcement Service

05-17-2018Front Page
Rick Rickaby Resigns As Highway Commissioner

05-17-2018Front Page
Wagner Has Full Board For Regular Meeting

05-17-2018Front Page
Porterfield Plans To Form Zoning/Land Use Committee

05-17-2018Front Page
Shirley Kaufman Receives Alvan E. Bovay Award

05-10-2018Obituaries
John A. Cervanka

05-10-2018Obituaries
Cecelia M. Chlopek

05-10-2018Obituaries
Malachi J. Bergevain

05-10-2018Obituaries
Gerald Bero

05-10-2018Obituaries
Wayne Falk

05-10-2018Obituaries
Marian C. Gruenstern

05-10-2018Obituaries
Dean O. Klein,

05-10-2018Obituaries
Richard Kuntze, Jr.

05-10-2018Obituaries
Carol R. LaLonde

05-10-2018Obituaries
Robert A. Martin

05-10-2018Obituaries
JanetLee M. Mickel

05-10-2018Obituaries
Jim J. Murray

05-10-2018Obituaries
Mary E. Oehler

05-10-2018Obituaries
Alice H. Peterson

05-10-2018Obituaries
Donna L. Polzin

05-10-2018Obituaries
Richard K. Smith

05-10-2018Obituaries
Lynore M. Waldron

05-10-2018Obituaries
Mary von Heimburg

05-10-2018Sports
Peshtigo Invite Showcases Area Talent

05-10-2018Sports
MAROON HALL OF FAME HEROES

05-10-2018Sports
Teams Fight for Postion as Shortened Season Nears End

05-10-2018Sports
Crivitz Takes Win Over Coleman; First in Over Four Years

05-10-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin

05-10-2018Perspectives
From Our Readers

05-10-2018Perspectives
From My Window

05-10-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee Village, Town Rummage Sale

05-10-2018Community - Wausaukee
Wausaukee To Offer Summer Food Plan

05-10-2018Community - Wausaukee
SC Auxiliary To Make Picnic Plans

05-10-2018Community - Wausaukee
WBA Farmers Market New Location This Year

05-10-2018Community - Crivitz
Crivitz Students Told No Phones While Driving 

05-10-2018Community - Crivitz
Middle Inlet Reunion Potluck Party May 24

05-10-2018Community - Crivitz
Lifetouch Photography at St. Mary, Crivitz

05-10-2018Community - Crivitz
Legion to Meet at Post May 16

05-10-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman Legion Post 280 Memorial Day Program

05-10-2018Community - Coleman
Coleman Utility Board To Meet

05-10-2018Community - Coleman
Equity to Host Tourney

05-10-2018Community - Coleman
Change Food Pantry Hours

05-10-2018Front Page
Crivitz Area Food Pantry Soon Will Have New Home

05-10-2018Front Page
County Committee Supports 18-Month Mining Moratorium

05-10-2018Front Page
Tiffany Says New Mine Law Protects Environment, Economy

05-10-2018Front Page
Kurt Konell Named Wagner Town Chair

05-10-2018Front Page
Master Gardeners Spring Plant Sale

05-04-2018Front Page
Peshtigo Chamber Announces 2018 Persons of the Year

05-03-2018Obituaries
Mary S. Zwiefelhofer 

05-03-2018Obituaries
Muriel J. Young

05-03-2018Obituaries
Lorraine B. Wood

05-03-2018Obituaries
Ralph VandenBush

05-03-2018Obituaries
Laura J. Valcq

05-03-2018Obituaries
Gloria Peetz

05-03-2018Obituaries
Victoria A. Lehmann

05-03-2018Obituaries
Richard Larson, Jr.

05-03-2018Obituaries
Donald T. LaGassie

05-03-2018Obituaries
Janet E. Krueger  

05-03-2018Obituaries
Charles Knapp Jr.

05-03-2018Obituaries
Tadeusz Kielbicki

05-03-2018Obituaries
Florence T. Rosene-Heuring

05-03-2018Obituaries
Thomas C. Heckel

05-03-2018Obituaries
Tina A. Gustin

05-03-2018Obituaries
Floyd F. Fisher

05-03-2018Obituaries
Blanche A. Fritz

05-03-2018Obituaries
Gloria Cottrell

05-03-2018Obituaries
Eileen (Anderson) Boorman

05-03-2018Obituaries
Jane R. Bigger

05-03-2018Obituaries
Dorothea M. Behrens

05-03-2018Sports
Peshtigo Wins Packerland Opener at Vernon Hills

05-03-2018Sports
Peshtigo Golfers Off To A Strong Start

05-03-2018Sports
Softball in Full Swing After Freeze in Play

05-03-2018Sports
Delfosse Spins Birthday No-Hitter in Victory Over Crivitz

05-03-2018Perspectives
Country Cousin


space
Peshtigo Times
WEB Poll!
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