We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Five and Dime?

By Jennifer Voight
Updated May 17, 2024
Our promise to you
America Explained is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At America Explained, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A five and dime is a store that sells a variety of inexpensive household items at discounted prices. The name five and dime refers to a category of stores that became popular in the late 19th century. The concept of the store began with the F. W. Woolworth stores that flourished in the United States and became the precursor to discount stores and dollar stores.

The first five and dime was opened by Frank Winfield Woolworth in 1879 in Utica, New York, but it offered only items that cost a nickel. Woolworth had already experimented with the concept of a five-cent table, a precursor to a clearance tables, in a dry goods store where he had worked. After the first store did poorly, Woolworth altered his plan and offered items that cost either five cents or 10 cents. He expanded and opened other stores, some of which failed while others were successful. By the end of the 19th century, Woolworth owned 54 five and dime stores in the United States.

These stores’ variety of items and lower prices appealed to immigrants and the poorer segments of the population. Woolworth added lunch counters that offered inexpensive restaurant food and added another draw for price-conscious shoppers. To offer his merchandise at lower prices than department stores, Woolworth negotiated his own agreements with store owners, effectively eliminating the middleman.

Other retailers were opening their own successful chains. Some of the most popular dime stores in the early 20th century included Ben Franklin, Duckwall-ALCO, and Walton’s Five and Dime. Some of these stores served as precursors for discount stores and convenience stores while changing and evolving to include higher price points and a greater variety of items. Kress’ store eventually became mega-retailer K-Mart, while Walton’s became Walmart.

Due to economic changes in the 1970s and 1980s, dime stores gradually faced more competition from more specialized discount stores. Eventually, five and dimes lost various sectors of their offerings to discount drug stores, home office stores, and discount clothing stores. Shoppers began flocking to suburban areas to shop, spending less time in downtown areas where many dime stores operated.

As items costing five cents or 10 cents became more uncommon and inflation grew, dollar stores became popular. Some dollar stores contain only items that cost one dollar, while other dollar stores offer items costing other prices. The term dollar store generally refers to a small store that offers inexpensive items at a discount, a concept not very far removed from the original concept of a five and dime store.

America Explained is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

America Explained, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.