By Alan Graham

“In the dime stores and bus stations
people talk over situations
read books and repeat quotations
draw conclusions on the wall…”
Love Minus Zero No Limit–Bob Dylan

Coronado’s own Five & Dime store, Coromart, has been closed for many years. Not just the business itself, but the entire concept of the Five & Dime store has fallen by the wayside in most American towns. There are a myriad of knock-offs or 99-cent outlets and the big chain stores like Walmart offer many of the same affordable goods. The 7-Eleven stores bridge that gap in a small way and every liquor store now carries the same.

But a dime back then went a lot farther than 99 cents does today. There are very few items that you can by for one dollar, but back then you could get four pieces of candy for one penny and there were many other items for that price. My brother in-law, Andy, would be so happy that he could buy a six pack of BUCKHORN beer for a whole 99 cents.

There was not a single centimeter of wall space inside Coromart with its twenty-foot ceiling. It was packed to the rafters with gift items and sundries for any and every occasion.

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 or ten cents. 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 W.T. Grant, J.J. Newberry’s, McCrory’s, Kresge, McLellan’s, and Ben Franklin stores. These stores originally featured merchandise priced at only five cents or ten cents, although later in the twentieth century the price range of merchandise expanded. Inflation eventually dictated that the stores were no longer able to sell any items for five or ten cents, and were then referred to as “variety stores” or more commonly dollar stores. Remember Coro-Days!

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2 Responses to THE DIME STORE

  1. Dana Kullmann says:

    When I was around 4 years old, 1956 or so, I would walk around the neighborhood picking flowers and holding them in a small bouquet then knock on someone’s door and sell them the bouquet for a penny. When I had the unimaginable sum of 10 cents I would head to the market on Orange between First and Second and buy wax lips, penny whistles, wax coke bottles, Fleer baseball cards (just for the crunchy gum inside). It was a different world back then, no one thought it strange or worrisome that a four year old would be walking blocks from home and ‘shopping’.

  2. Suzi Lewis Pignataro says:

    Dana, I agree! I was born on the island in 1955; lived there until I moved away to college in 1973. I remember being my neighborhood’s social butterfly at three and four. I didn’t just visit the kids; I enjoyed hanging out with the moms as well. I remember walking home from Kindergarten on my own or with a friend. I frequented all the little neighborhood markets, the beach, the five-and-dime stores. I had no fear, and neither did my parents. I learned how to navigate my world; learned people skills; and developed a healthy sense of adventure.

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