Categories: New York Notables.
Frank Winfield Woolworth (April 13, 1852 – April 8, 1919) was the founder of F. W. Woolworth Company, and operator of discount stores known as "Five-and-Dimes" that featured a selection of merchandise priced at five and ten cents. He pioneered the now-common practices of buying merchandise direct from manufacturers and fixing prices on items, rather than haggling. He was the first to use self-service display cases so customers could examine what they wanted to buy without the help of a salesclerk.
Frank Woolworth was born in Rodman, New York, to John Hubbell Woolworth and Fanny McBrier, and had a brother, Charles Sumner Woolworth.
On June 11, 1876, he married Jennie Creighton (1853–1924); eventually they had three daughters. One, Edna Woolworth (1883–1917), the mother of Barbara Hutton, later committed suicide.
He borrowed $300 and opened a five-cent store in Utica, New York, on February 22, 1878. It failed within weeks. Woolworth opened his second store in April 1879, in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, where he expanded the concept to include merchandise priced at ten cents.
In 1911, the F.W. Woolworth Company was incorporated with 586 stores. In 1913, Woolworth built the Woolworth Building in New York City at a cost of $13.5 million in cash. At the time, it was the tallest building in the world, measuring 792 feet, or 241.4 meters.
He built Winfield Hall in Glen Cove, New York, on Long Island, in 1916, Woolworth died on April 8, 1919, five days before his 67th birthday.
At the time of his death, Woolworth was worth approximately $6.5 million or the equivalent of 1/1214th of the US GNP
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