In the article The Nickel & Dime Empire by Joseph Gustaitis Americans are made aware that the old way of life is disappearing. Gustaitis cites two important incidents that opened the eyes of Americans. The first incident was the death of film star Jimmy Stewart on July 3, 1997. The closing of Woolworth's remaining 400 stores also in July of 1997, was the second event that brought awareness of the changing times to the readers. The nickel and dime empire has been a part of American culture sine the mid 1800s. The news of one of the oldest five-and-ten chains closing was a blow to America. .
Frank Winfield Woolworth grew up poor. When he turned twenty years old Woolworth went to work for William Harvey Moore as a store clerk. In 1878 a traveling salesman told the store's management where Woolworth worked to set up a counter of goods to be sold at five cents a piece. The goods sold at a fast pace. The traveling salesman gave Woolworth the incentive to open his own five-and-ten store. .
Woolworth opened his first store on February 22, 1879 in Utica, New York. He promised himself he would never be in debt again. Woolworth's employers backed his dream by loaning him $315.41. He kept his promise and paid off his loan and opened another store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania on June 21, 1879. Woolworth ran into supply problems so he made his five-cent store in to a five-and-ten store. In 1890 Woolworth went to Europe. He imported dolls, marbles, Christmas tree ornaments, glassware, and vases. By 1907 Woolworth stores was bringing in more than two million dollars worth of European products. During the Panic of 1893 Woolworth bought larger quantities of wholesale goods for cheaper. Consumers were finding that during such a hard time the Woolworth stores were a bargain. .
In 1896 Woolworth opened a store in Manhattan. Four years later he opened another store also in Manhattan that sold everything including candy, jewelry, toys, and perfume.