The F. W. Woolworth Company (often referred to as Woolworth’s) was a retail company and one of the original pioneers of the five-and-dime store. It was arguably the most successful American and international five-and-dime, setting trends and creating the modern retail model which stores follow worldwide today.
The first Woolworth store was opened by Frank Winfield Woolworth this date in 1878, as “Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store” in Utica, N.Y. Though it initially appeared to be successful, the store soon failed. When Woolworth searched for a new location, a friend suggested Lancaster, PA.. Using the sign from the Utica store, Woolworth opened his first successful “Woolworth’s Great Five Cent Store” on July 18, 1879, in Lancaster. He brought his brother, Charles, into the business. In 1880, they sold the first manufactured Christmas trees
The two Woolworth brothers pioneered and developed merchandising, direct purchasing, sales, and customer service practices commonly used today. In 1910 Frank Woolworth took another leap and commissioned the design and construction of the Woolworth Building in N Y City. A pioneering early skyscraper, it was entirely paid for in cash. It was completed in 1913 and was the tallest building in the world until 1930.
In the 1960s, the five-and-dime concept evolved into the larger discount department store format. Despite growing to be one of the largest retail chains in the world through most of the 20th Century, increased competition led to its decline beginning in the 1980s.
The chain went out of business in July 1997, when the company decided to focus on the Foot Locker division. By 2001, the company focused exclusively on the sporting goods market, changing its name to the present Foot Locker, Inc.
Retail chains using the Woolworth name survive in Austria, Germany, Mexico and, until the start of 2009, the United Kingdom.