Woolworth’s Day is celebrated every year on February 22 in commemoration of Woolworth’s great ‘Five Cent Store.’ Frank Woolworth started his business by selling everything at five cents, which at that time was the first to set the trend. Today, even though the pioneer Woolworth is defunct, the brand continues to grow internationally by the same name ‘Woolworth’. So, in honor of the pioneers of Woolworth, we celebrate this great store that’s left its mark in history.
History of Woolworth's Day
Frank W. Woolworth, the pioneer of the Woolworth business, was born in 1852 in the U.S. He was an entrepreneur who pioneered the concept of buying products directly from the manufacturer and then selling it at his rate to eliminate the middle man. At the age of 27, he opened a Woolworth’s Grand Five Cents Store in New York in 1879. The business failed because of several reasons but the primary reason was the expense of living in New York.
The tale did not end there as Frank continued searching for a new location to open the same store and so he did. He opened a new store in Pennsylvania which proved to be a success. With this success, he brought in his brother to follow suit and open another branch in the state with the name “Five Cents Woolworth’s Bro’s Store.” The store initially failed, but under the manager Sum, the store gradually progressed and soon enabled the store manager to buy out the store. This purchase resulted in the store chain having its first franchise under Sum. The chain of five cents stores continued expanding while using Woolworth’s name in some formats. By the start of the twentieth century, there were six chains of stores functional in the U.S. and Canada. Profits from the chain were massive, and hence by 1910, Frank planned to construct the Woolworth Building in New York. Until 1932, the store continued selling at the original price of five and 10 cents, but in 1935 this practice was altogether abolished.
The stores continued operating and expanding until 1997 when the company decided to shut down its business and explore another avenue under the name Foot Locker Inc. The name Woolworth continues to exist in Australia, Europe, and South Africa despite having no link with the original Frank W. Woolworths chain.
Woolworth's Day timeline
The success story of Woolworth stores begins from the store in Lancaster, PA.
Sum, the manager of the second Woolworth’s store, buys out the store, hence making it the first Woolworth’s franchise.
The store outlook set by Sum becomes the standard outlook design of the Woolworths stores.
One of Woolworth's diners in North Carolina become the central stage for sit-ins as a form of protest during the Civil Rights Movement.
Woolworth's Day FAQs
Is there still an original Woolworth store in the U.S.?
No, the company stopped its functions in 1997 and started operating as a Venator Group in the U.S., U.K., and Australia.
How much was five cents in 1879??
Today’s $1.5 is equal to the five cents of 1879.
What happened in the Woolworth’s Diner?
Four young, black African-American people came to the diner and asked to be served. Because they were black, the waiter refused to serve them. As a protest, the men refused to leave and staged a sit-in. This happened in 1960.
How to Observe Woolworth's Day
Research the concept
Look into what Frank W. Woolworth did back in the 1870s. He introduced the first direct-from-manufacturer strategy in which merchandise was bought directly from the manufacturer and then sold at an individually determined price.
Launch your own start-up
You can try to set up your start-up, no matter how small. Start by assessing the need in your society and then filling that gap.
Visit the vintage stores
There are a few remaining vintage stores still operating in parts of the U.S. Plan a visit to one of these stores and see how they operate and what the original legacy was.
5 Interesting Facts About Woolworth’s
It had a humble beginning
Frank W. Woolworth came from a very poor family but trained himself in the art of business.
The largest supermarket chain
Woolworth is Australia's largest supermarket chain.
The existing brand
Despite being defunct, the name Woolworth continues to exist as a brand worldwide with a presence on almost every continent.
The rise of dollar shops
All one-dollar stores have taken inspiration from the original Woolworth's Grand Five Cents Store.
The change in branding
The original Woolworth Company now exists as a sports manufacturer by the name Foot Locker Inc.
Why Woolworth's Day is Important
Teaches us a lot
Learning about the origins of the Woolworth family teaches us a lot about resilience. We also see how Woolworth not only elevated himself as a businessman but also uplifted his brother, extended family, and friends.
Back in the day, it was the first-of-its-kind store to adopt the five and 10 cents pricing strategy for all its products. The store’s expansion then led to other businesses opening up with a similar strategy.
A lasting legacy
Although the original company has been defunct since 1997, the name continues to be used. The legacy of Frank W. Woolworth lives on.
Woolworth's Day dates