Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
F.W. Woolworth Company
The F.W. Woolworth Company (formerly Z) was a United States brand name of retail stores. It was founded in 1911 by Frank Woolworth and Charles Woolworth by the merger of six chains of five-and-ten-cent stores.
F.W. Woolworth was among the first five-and-ten-cent stores, which sold discounted general merchandise at fixed prices, usually five or ten cents, undercutting the prices of local merchants. It was also the first store to put merchandise out for the shopping public to handle, select, and purchase. In earlier shops, customers presented the clerk with a list of items to purchase which were all kept behind the counter. The stores eventually incorporated lunch counters and served as general gathering places, a precursor to the modern shopping mall food court.
The concept was widely copied, and five-and-ten-cent stores (also sometimes called five-and-dime stores) were a fixture in downtowns in America for the first half of the 20th century, and they anchored suburban strip malls in middle part of the 20th century. The criticisms that the five-and-dime stores drove local merchants out of business would repeat themselves a century later, when discount stores became popular.
In the 1960s, the five-and-dime concept evolved into the larger discount store. In 1962, the same year as competitors Kmart (whose Kresge stores competed with the F.W. Woolworth five-and-ten stores), Target, and Wal-Mart, Woolworth founded a discount chain called Woolco. The Woolco chain closed in the United States in 1982. It was more successful in Canada, surviving until 1992, when the remaining 144 stores were sold to Wal-Mart.
The company also operated a number of other retail chains, including Foot Locker, Champs sporting goods, Kinney Shoe, and Northern Reflections apparel shops.
On July 17, 1997, Woolworth closed the remaining 400 of its F.W. Woolworth five-and-ten-cent stores. Analysts at the time cited the lower prices of the big discount stores and the expansion of grocery stores to carry most of the items five-and-ten-cent stores carried as factors in the stores' lack of success in the late 20th century. Ironically, in that same year Wal-Mart replaced Woolworth on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
On February 1, 1960, four African-American students sat down at a segregated lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth's store. They were refused service, touching off six months of sit-ins and economic boycotts that were a landmark of the US civil rights movement. In 1993, the lunch counter was donated to the Smithsonian Institution.
International users of the Woolworths name
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details