Before the Dollar Store, there was the Five and Dime.


Come Back to the Five and Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean

An acquaintance emailed me a really nice bunch of old photos, which I believe originated from The Windsor Star archives. The photo above, (taken in June 1946) shows a store that was once found on Ottawa Street east of Hall. It caught my attention because I live close by. I haven’t had a chance to go by there lately to check what’s replaced it. Does anybody know what is currently at this location?

The other reason the photo caught my eye is because of the recent proliferation of dollar stores in Windsor, along with Money Marts and thrift stores – a clear signal that Windsor’s economy is still struggling more than two years after the onset of the global recession.

1946 was just one year after the end of WWII. The baby boom in Canada started the following year. Money was still pretty tight for a lot of people after years of food rations and inflation so dime stores were a fixture in cities and towns everywhere.

The concept of the variety store originated with the five and ten, nickel and dime, five and dime or dime store, a store where everything cost either five cents (a nickel) or ten cents (a dime). The originator of the concept may be Woolworth’s, which began in 1878 in Watertown, New York. Other five and tens that existed in the USA included J.J. Newberry, J.G. McCrory, S.S. Kresge, McLellan’s, S. H. Dress, TG & Y and Ben Franklin Stores.

These stores originally featured merchandise at only five or ten cents, although later in the twentieth century the price range of merchandise expanded.

Five cents in 1913, when adjusted for inflation was $1.15 in 2009 dollars!

When I was a little girl living on Devonshire Road, I used to walk to Ottawa Street to a dime store which had a really great lunch counter and where I could buy my mother her Christmas presents. I believe it was called Woolworth’s. It was much bigger than the Pickard’s store and I think it was on the north side of the street near Windermere or Lincoln. Anyone remember?

Inflation eventually dictated that the stores were no longer able to sell any items for just a nickel or a dime, and were then referred to as “variety stores” or more commonly, dollar stores.

As for dollar stores, will they disappear like the 5 and dime and soon people will be going to the “5 Bucks store” to stretch their pay cheque?

My source for the information about five and dime stores in this story was found on this link.

To experience another shopping trip down memory lane, you may enjoy Al Roach’s story, Give Me a Dollar to Spend On Wyandotte Street in the 1930s on our Walkerville Times archive link here.

About Elaine Weeks

How history was taught in my day: memorize lots of boring dates and facts, watch corny old black & white history films. There was one bright spot, however. Grade 9 history at Walkerville Collegiate with Miss Falls (Georgina) when she taught a section on local history and took us on a field trip to explore some of Windsor's built heritage. Due to a series of peculiar events, celebrating local history became part of my business. My company, Walkerville Publishing Inc., (partner is Chris Edwards) launched "The Walkerville Times" in 1999 and we produced 61 issues - the last in 2016. In 2004, we began producing local history books; that year we released "Best of The Times Magazine". Our current titles include 5000 Ways You Know You're From Detroit, 500 Ways You Know You're From Windsor, Walkerville - Whisky Town Extraordinaire, and Windsor Then - A Pictorial Essay of Windsor's Glorious Past. I also wrote a novel, Time Trespasser, that blends time travel with local history. I am working on a sequel. I am a writer, editor, blogger, photographer, mother, wife, sister, activist, traveller, gardener, knitter, glass is nearly full person.
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8 Responses to Before the Dollar Store, there was the Five and Dime.

  1. I grew up in the area off Droullard Rd ,Albert Rd and Pickards was in fact on Droullard Rd. I remember going there with my Mom it was a great Dime store

  2. Micheal Parent says:

    As I recall, Woolworths was on Wyandotte.near (Lincoln or just past there heading downtown) There was a Rexall Pharmacy at Lincoln. Pickards was on Druillard I think, but maybe Ottawa. I was raised at 606 Argyle Road, corner of Wyandotte. There was a funky little drugstore at Devonshire and Wyandotte too.

  3. Mike Morency says:

    That building became 9 Ball Heaven Arcade for many years… frequented more than a few times when I attended Lowe in the 80’s. It has been sitting empty for a long time, but I recently saw some sort of renovation work happening.

    To gain access to the Ford City photo collection you are better to connect with the staff of the Ford City Neighbourhood Renewal Project… Karlene Nielsen or Steve Lynn at 519-915-9583. Their offices are inside the Gino A Marcus Community Centre… just inside and to the left of the front entrance.

  4. Adele McLennan says:

    I was interested to see this photo of Pickard’s but wondered if your info was incorrect. The Pickard’s I knew was on Drouillard Rd – unless they owned a 2nd store.

    Also, I’m still hoping that someone will submit a photo of the original Holy Rosary School from Drouillard Rd. Not the existing building but the 2 story building.


    • selainew says:

      they may have owned two stores as it’s quite likely the Drouillard location was very prosperous if it was operating before Ford Canada moved their headquarters to Oshawa in the 1950s.
      Have you checked with Ford City Business District office to see if they have a photo of the original Holy Rosary School? Here’s contact info: Ford City Business District, 980 St. Luke Road, Windsor, ON N8Y 4Y8
      Phone: (519) 254-4111
      Fax: (519) 735-6421

  5. Pingback: Sweet Tweets (April 11-17) | OurWindsor

  6. Clare says:

    There was a Woolworth’s on Ottawa and also a Metropolitan store. I used to take my daughter there in the seventies, in her stroller, when we lived on Argyle. The Woolworth’s had the lunch counter where we sometimes stopped for a drink or snack.

    I remember Woolworth’s, Metropolitan (and the day the latter exploded) and Kresge’s downtown which I visited shopping with my mother in the fifties and later alone. The original Zeller’s (“dry goods”) was on Ouellette Avenue then as well but the best were the department stores, Smith’s and Bartlett’s on the east side of Ouellette between Pitt and Riverside.

    • selainew says:

      You’ve got some great shopping memories Clare. I distinctly remember the rectangular lunch counter at the department store south of Park on Ouellette but I can’t remember the store’s name. It may have been south of Wyandotte in fact but definitely on the west side. The waitresses stood on the inside the rectangle of the counter and customers sat on the outside. I can still see the metal cake stands with the clear covers.

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