1939: A Look Back Inside the Old Woolworth 5&10 Store: Lansing, Michigan
For those who remember, Woolworth's was a simple pleasure for kids and an easy shopping stop for mom. Yeah, dads wouldn't admit it, but they liked it, too.
The kids enjoyed racing over to the toy department and then heading over to drool at the vast candy department, complete with all your favorites and lots of bulk candy to boot. After daydreaming and pestering mom to buy a few toys or pounds of candy (and getting turned down), then we were given a few cents to go to the lunch counter to get a burger and Coke or maybe a piece of pie or sweet roll. Afterward when it was time to go home, we didn't wanna go empty-handed; so it was over to the comic books, MAD paperbacks, and monster magazines to read in the car.
Who was the guy responsible for all this?
Frank Winfield Woolworth, born in New York on April 13, 1852. When he was fifteen he was working in a shop where he was given the responsibility of displays and stock. One day he set up a table display of all five-cent items that became a customer favorite. It was so popular, that he took the idea and opened his own store in Utica, NY. That flopped, so he relocated to Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and on June 21, 1879 opened “The Great Five Cent Store”. This venture proved wildly successful, and another shop was opened in Harrisburg. In 1881, ten-cent items were added, making Woolworth's the first 5&10 store chain.
The first Lansing, Michigan Woolworth shop opened on one of the city's most famous sites: the location of the old state Capitol building. Woolworth's was open for Lansing business on that corner of Allegan and Washington streets beginning June 8, 1939. With merchandise on separate floors, it also had a ladies' lounge and a lunch counter near the back. The lunch counter became one of the most popular stops for a bite to eat in the afternoon.
There ended up being three Lansing Woolworths, and all closed in January 1994. In the summer of 1997 all Woolworths across the country shut down permanently.
The gallery below shows many inside photos of the original departments from all those years ago and what the building looks like now...have a look!
Inside the 1939 Lansing Woolworth 5 & 10 Store