A Bride in Store, I wanted my heroine to have new ideas on how to run a store that would go against the traditional running of a mercantile, so I had her come from Scranton, Pennsylvania where the Woolworth brothers pioneered the Five and Ten store model. She has ideas of her own, of course, but she was impressed by her visit to the new Woolworth store before leaving Pennsylvania as so many others would be as well, since soon after, five and ten stores started popping up all over the country.
One of Woolworth’s new-fangled ideas was setting out price tags. Can you imagine going into a store and nothing is priced? I leave garage sales when there’s nothing priced—probably because I’m too introverted to have to ask the owners a hundred times how much things are! So instead of relying on the shopkeeper’s memory for prices, shoppers could know what the item they were considering cost immediately.
Another thing Woolworth was good at was customer service. Even the owner himself would work the sales floor and help customers find things. Which is a great way to get sales if someone’s unsure about where something is or what they want, they won’t walk out before they know if the store can help or not. Now, there used to be a store in the mall in Fayetteville, Arkansas that my husband and I dared each other to go into and walk the perimeter and get out before a sale clerk accosted us—so there’s a difference between friendly customer service and sales clerk vultures! (By the way, we never left there without having to insist we didn’t need help at least twice before getting out of the store!) But of course, Eliza in my novel is the helpful sort of sales clerk.
Woolworth also began buying in bulk and joining other store owners in purchasing inventory to cut down on costs, hence being able to offer a lot of things for nickels and dimes. Now, it did mean the quality might not have been top-rate, but when you’re poor, a spoon is a spoon, yes? But as a poor person myself, I like having cheaper options—and so many homesteaders back then, I’m sure, loved having cheaper options when they went to town in the lean years. If Woolworth and Eliza were around in our lifetime, I’m sure they would have embraced the internet, because they looked to give people choices and options—cheap ones at that! I wonder if they got as much flack as Walmart and Amazon do now…
Have you ever visited a Five and Ten? There is one in Branson, Missouri where I grew up, and I loved going in there as a kid. It was filled with every imaginable thing all the way up to the ceilings—though there were a lot more than five and ten cent sticker prices!
If you’d like to see if Eliza succeeded in her quest to set up a similar five and ten store in Salt Flatts, comment and we’ll put you in for a drawing!
A Bride in Store
Impatient to meet her intended groom and help him grow his general store, mail-order bride Eliza Cantrell sets out on her travels a week early. But her plan goes sadly awry when her train is held up by robbers who steal her dowry and Axel, her groom-to-be, isn't even in town when she finally arrives.
Axel's business partner, William Stanton, has no head for business and would much rather be a doctor. When his friend's mail-order bride arrives in town with no money and no groom in sight, he feels responsible and lets her help around the store--where she quickly proves she's much more adept at business than he ever will be.
The sparks that fly between Will and Eliza as they work together in close quarters are hard to ignore, but Eliza is meant for Axel and a future with the store, while Will is biding his time until he can afford medical school. However, their troubles are far from over when Axel finally returns, and soon both Will and Eliza must decide what they're willing to sacrifice to chase their dreams--or if God has a new dream in store for them both.
For more information about Melissa and her books, visit www.melissajagears.com. And don't forget to leave a comment to be entered in the drawing for a free copy of A Bride in Store.
My grandmother used to take me to a Woolworths when I was little. I have memories of cookies in big bins, hot dogs with square rolls from the lunch counter, and a neat toy she once bought me that strapped around my ankle,then I'd swing it like a horizontal jump rope.ReplyDelete
A Skip-It? I remember those. Hot dogs in square rolls, eh? Sounds counterintuitive but fun!Delete
My toy was a Jingle Jump. Actually, the buns were more of a rectangle!Delete
I actually would go to a five and dime with my mom..and we would collect items on her shipping list and then..our Woolworths had a lunch counter with seats that "twirled"! So we would get cherry sodas! Great memories of simpler times. Thanks for the chance to win your book,it sounds like a great read for fall!ReplyDelete
My five and Dime didn't have a lunch counter. :( But I do remember an ice cream parlor with swively chairs!Delete
Yes, with essentials ~ sewing supplies, small toys families could buy their children, every day needs. I would love to read this story and hope I win! Kathleen ~ Lane Hill House lanehillhouse[at]centurylink[dot]netReplyDelete
I loved looking at the different toys I could find at our 5 & 10 that weren't elsewhere....we rarely got to buy any, but they were fun to look at and wish on. :)Delete
We had T,G & Y stores where I live, but I think they were similar to Woolworth stores. And my aunt and uncle ran a Ben Franklin store. I remember going to visit them when my sister and I were young. My aunt lets us both pick out a small toy. It was such fun going through the whole store and picking out something. There are no more small stores like that here any more. So sad.
We have a few small stores around here and then on Small Business Saturday last Thanksgiving Buying Season, I couldn't make it to one on the actual Saturday and so I went on Monday and asked her how things went and she said she had extended hours and absolutely NO ONE came. She uses the shop to sew on the side otherwise they just aren't going to be around anymore if we don't go!Delete
As a kid, our family shopped in Woolworth's, Ben Franklin's, and other five and dimes. Exciting stuff at that age! :) Have visited the one in Branson you're talking about, too, Melissa. Brings back lots of memories.ReplyDelete
Cheryl, did you visit it downtown or on the Landing? When I googled for a picture to put in the article I saw that they moved it to the RITZY Landing! A five and dime does NOT belong under a bunch of condos next to ritzy shops. Makes me frown.Delete
I'm excited to read this book - hope I win!ReplyDelete
Fingers crossed! If you're not following my Facebook author page, I've got giveaways all month planned! https://www.facebook.com/melissajagearsauthorDelete
i never shopped in a Woolworth's. but my town had Ben Franklin's, i loved shopping there. of course they are now closed & gone, but i love telling my kids about them. can not wait to read this book, thank you for the chance to enter. happy weekend.ReplyDelete
So so sad to think of them being gone. Hope you have great things going for your weekend! I promised the kids to go to the pool and it's not even dollar day! Living it up! :)Delete
Fun post, Melissa. I really don't remember if there was a five and dime in Greensburg, Pa. where I grew up. I was mostly a farm kid and rarely went into town. Now I'll have to go Google it. :)Delete
I remember shopping at Woolworth's. I hate going to a yard sale where nothing is priced too.ReplyDelete
Non priced yard sales are the worst. At least put up a poster with "Shirts 50 cents, pants $1" or make tables certain amounts of money or SOMETHING!ReplyDelete
Oh yes, there were several "dime stores", when I was growing up in the '50's and '60's. They were a regular part of my family's shopping excursions. I remember as a child going to the dime store with coins in my purse and buying all my Christmas presents there for my mom, dad, sister and brother. I also remember shopping at Woolworth's throughout the year and what a treat it was to order lunch at their lunch counter. I always ordered a club sandwich. Good memories. Melissa, I am looking forward to reading A Bride in Store. It sounds like a fun book to read.ReplyDelete
I bought my family stuff at the dollar store when those were fairly new.Delete
No need to put me in the drawing. I loved the book and all the things I learned about the five and dime trade of the times. I remember Woolworths and general stores near my grandparents' homes.ReplyDelete
I had so much fun learning about Woolworth....except the part where the heirs basically bankrupted the business. :( Cautionary tales of spoiling children exemplified 100 fold there! Thanks for dropping in Julie!Delete
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I would be so blessed to win!!! Good Luck to everyone and God Bless You All!!!ReplyDelete
Oh I loved Woolworths. As a child my mom and granny would go to the one in Asheville, NC. I always bought diapers for my baby doll. Very special memories.ReplyDelete
A lot of nostalgia for those stores! Lots of things I miss about nowadays, like bookstores! Sigh. No bookstores around here, and definitely no five and dime....Delete
I loved the five and dimes from my childhood. I remember shopping in Woolworth's, Newberrys, Ben Franklin's and Sprouse Reitz. Ah, the memories!ReplyDelete
Never heard of Sprouse Reitz, will have to look that up.Delete
Thank you for your post. It is interesting to learn where the "dime store" came from. Like you, I wonder if the got all the criticism that Walmart and Amazon get. However, I love them.ReplyDelete
Thank you for the chance to win a copy of your book.
I bet they did, they probably had the same hate/love relationship with lots of customers.Delete
I grew up in a small town and there was a dime store. Loved to go and look at all the candy as a kid. I think running a general store would be fun!ReplyDelete
As one of the old west town occupations, I definitely think general store would be fun. But then, that's dealing with a lot of people, the introvert in me would rather just order, inventory and stock, I think. :)Delete
I remember going to Woolworth's for lunch and looking for notebooks, nail polish and lots of other little fun things!ReplyDelete
worthy2bpraised at gmail dot com
Man, all this talk of lunch counters...I wish my five and dime had had food. I'm kinda hungry right now......ReplyDelete
I remember as a child going to Woolworth's with my grandma. We would sometimes eat there but mostly shop.ReplyDelete
When I was a kid my grandma would take us to Pic 'N Save to look at everything and pick an inexpensive toy or treat. Now she takes my daughter to Dollar Tree!ReplyDelete
I love the cover of your new book! It was done so well. Thanks for sharing the giveaway!
colorvibrant at gmail dot com
I have been to the Five and Ten in Branson, I believe... though it has been a few years. I'm really looking forward to reading this book! Thanks for the giveaway! :)ReplyDelete
crazybooklover7 [at] yahoo [dot] com
Growing up Woolworth's was the place to go for lunch and a fountain drink. Loved browsing around the store looking for little trinkets. Thanks for the giveaway and I sure would love to read your book. Blessings to you!ReplyDelete
I visited Branson for the first time this spring, and our tour group gave us some time to wander the town. My mom and I popped into the Five and Ten--I loved it! All the games, puzzles, knicknacks. Others from our group visited it too, and we all had a ball finding things that the other person should buy. ;)ReplyDelete
Book winner is Cheryl, thanks all for visiting! Hope you can get your hands on the book!ReplyDelete