Wednesday, September 23, 2009

I Remember Woolworth's

In 1979, F.W. Woolworth was the largest chain of its kind in the world. Since then, it's morphed into Foot Locker and other spin-offs, and the five-and-dime general merchandise store concept has morphed into giant "super-size" box "marts;" as of 2009, Woolworth's stores in the US remain only as historic buildings, now used for other purposes.

The 1960 Greensboro, North Carolina, Woolworth sit-ins were a landmark in the American Civil Rights movement. Up to that time, black people were supposed to stand and eat, while whites sat at the lunch counter. The sit-ins worked: within six months, Woolworth's desegregated its lunch counters.

In the 1970s, I used to enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches and coffee at an integrated Woolworth's in Durham, North Carolina, and I remember going to another one, in Philadelphia, a little later. Woolworth's was like a homier version of drugstore chains today. A similar concept, Roses Stores, still exists in North Carolina. I miss the Woolworth's lunch counters.

1971 commercial above: Woolworth's Stereo Spectacular! Albums for only a dollar fifty-seven! Another bunch for only eighty-seven cents! How about some 8-Track stereo cartridges? Hurry over! Everything in stereo! Herb Albert, Canned Heat, Guess Who, the original cast Sesame Street! Get 'em while they last!

Today's Rune: The Self.


the walking man said...

You know what i miss about the Woolworth's and Cunningham's gone past us? The smells of the store and the squeaky wooden floors that hundreds of thousands of feet had walked before me.

Charles Gramlich said...

Woolworth wasn't really big where I grew up. I know they built stores in some rural towns, but none around where I lived.

jodi said...

Erik, we never had a Woolworth's, but Cunningham's and S.S.Kresge fill in for us. The best grilled cheese and french fries EVER!