Friday, March 12, 2021

The flagship five-and-dime arrives in Chariton

Chariton experienced the beginning of a retail revolution 90 years ago this month when the F.W. Woolworth Co. announced plans to locate a five-and-dime here --- choosing a location on the north side of the square.

At the time, Woolworth still was strictly a five-and-dime operation, but that changed not long after the Chariton store opened. A 20-cent line of merchandise was added during 1932 and selling-price limits were abandoned entirely during 1935. But the "dime store" legend lived on.

The site chosen for the new store was the west half of the building now occupied in its entirety by U.S. Bank. Constructed during 1910, the building was owned by State Savings Bank (later First State Bank), which occupied a smaller retail space next to the alley in it.

This configuration continued until 1959 when a new Woolworth building was constructed on the south side of the square and First State Bank expanded and took over the entire ground floor, still occupied by U.S. Bank.

Woolworth added its trademark new front to the retail space, as shown above in a snapshot that surfaced several years ago on eBay. Grand opening occurred on April 25, 1931 --- and the rest is retail history. Here's the announcement story, published in The Herald-Patriot of March 5, 1931, and the full-page grand opening advertisement published on April 23.


Negotiations looking toward the establishment of a Woolworth five and ten cent store in Chariton, which have been pending for several weeks, were completed yesterday with receipt of the lease contract from the New York offices of the company by Fred S. Risser, president of the State Savings Bank. The nationally known company will open its store in the building formerly occupied by the Dave Spitzer Woman's Shop, and the present tentative plans call for the formal opening on Saturday, April 4.

Representatives of the Woolworth company were in Chariton some weeks ago investigating the field, and the possibilities of the Spitzer building as a suitable location. They were much impressed with the business outlook in this county, and stated at the time that the former Spitzer location was ideal for their requirements, both as to size and location.

A lease contract covering a twenty year period as drawn up at that time and forwarded to the New York office for approval of the company officials. Receipt of the signed contract yesterday completes the transaction and insures the establishment of the nationally known five and ten cent store in Chariton.

Representatives of the company state that a new front is to be installed in the local building, the interior slightly remodeled and both the exterior and interior redecorated in the characteristic Woolworth color scheme.

Officials of the State Savings Bank, owners of the Spitzer building, give it as their opinion that the addition of the Woolworth store to the business life of the city will be a decided asset. They point out that the history of the organization shows that in every community where similar stores have been established and increased volume of business has been enjoyed by all lines. "There is no question but that Woolworth stores bring customers to any city," they state, "and when any number of people come to the city all business profits."

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