Remembering the Five and Dime
Fading but not forgotten
"Good Morning, Can I help you?"
It's probably been quite a while since we've walked into a store and been greeted upon entering by a smiling, helpful clerk. The fact is, the vast majority may now be scratching their heads thinking, "Store owners and employees actually did this at one time?"
I can answer that. Yes, they sure did and the fond memories linger on. So it seems a bit of history may be in order for those who were not fortunate enough to experience the good old days of the Five and Ten Cent Variety Store. There are current day models of these quaint stores of yesterday, advanced of course to the Five and Ten Dollar Store, but like so many other treasures of the past, it's just not the same.
For those of us who were there, a vivid snapshot of the entire experience remains a clear and colorful picture. Speaking strictly from a Boomer perspective, go ahead fellow-boomers, close your eyes and place yourself in the Five and Dime that stood on Main Street in your own town. The smile on your faces will tell of all the wonderful sounds, sights and smells of that little store neatly filled with bins of everything you can imagine. I remember even the sound of my shoes walking the aisles made of wooden planks and the mixture of smells, from penny candies to crisp fabrics and paper products. Yes, memories linger on when they were so much a part of our youth, beloved neighborhoods and that time in our lives when we were happy, carefree explorers of our environment.
A little History.
This innovative concept of the Five and Dime Variety store was introduced to our culture in America by Frank Woolworth with his first successful store opened in June of 1879 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Prior to this, Frank had experienced a failed attempt with a store he had opened in February of that same year, at Utica, New York.
It is noteworthy that this entrepreneur did not allow his failed attempt to discourage him, but quickly moved forward to fulfill his dream, in less than 4 months. One month thereafter, with brother Charles in partnership, these men opened their second store in July 1879 at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Due to rent disputes, that Harrisburg store was moved to York, Pennsylvania in November 1880. No obstacle was stopping the Woolworth brothers.
The rest of the story consists of thousands, yes, thousands of these stores popping up all over America and even the world. Just as the big box department stores, namely WalMart, exist today with slightly different price tags and policies. However, I can tell you, we never got lost in our local Five and Dime and only one happy person served the customers with ease and a smile, usually the owner.
Welcome to "VIDLER'S," East Aurora Upstate Western New York
Preserving a Treasure
Stretching from 676 to 694 Main Street, in the lovely and pristine Village of East Aurora, New York, stands 85 year old "Vidler's 5 & 10." A sight to behold and experience to love, this family owned and operated store welcomes hundreds of thousands visitors each year. Any day, any time, you'll find this fabulous 5 & 10 bursting with customers and visitors from everywhere imaginable, browsing this two-level 33,000 sq. footage thriving business, offering their customers 75,000 different items.
Those numbers are not a typo but the reality of the most fun and fascinating shopping experience you'll ever have. Once you walk through the door, you'll be mesmerized and taken back in time to the wonderful world of the Five and Dime. Hours can pass without even realizing yet you simply won't want to leave.
The original owners, parents of brothers Bob & Ed Vidler, first opened what began as a simple, modest 5 & 10 cent store. Since that time 85 years ago, the store has grown and thrived, continuing to be owned, operated and staffed with numerous family members, 4 generation's worth of creative entrepreneurs.
Vidler's is a hugely popular stopping point for tourists, travelers and even locals who have been there dozens of times. For many people,Vidler's is the destination of a family day trip adventure. It is quite simply a fascinating and fun-filled way to spend quality and nostalgic time that you'll appreciate and remember forever. Please take a few moments to enjoy these short videos.
Let's clean up!
An Older video before new additions
You Should Visit Vidler's!!
Being lucky enough to live less than an hour's drive from Vidler's, you'd best believe I've been there numerous times. Each time was as wonderful as the one before and left me assured I'd visit again and again, bringing a friend along to hook them onto the Vidler's Train. Everyone I've taken along has thanked me for the best connection ever.
While there, the friendly staff, mostly family, will stop to introduce themselves and chat for a while. Visitors are treated royally. They're eager to give you a history of their beloved business and walk with you touring the enormous square footage of fabulous displays.
I'd like to mention that they carry an assortment of their own specially created Vidlers products, aptly named "Bob & Ed's"....hot sauce, maple syrup, soup to nuts! I invariably buy two or three of these items. They are not to eat or use you see, I place them in a case for safe keeping and most of all because believe it or not, I have sons named "Bob & Ed!" It appears they have their own product line, and yes, people ask and we must confess.
The next time you're planning a vacation, why not consider this exciting part of the Country? I'm partial of course as my roots are here as well as those of my children and grandchildren. Although a few of my crew live and work elsewhere now, western New York remains "home," to them and for many a wonderful momentous reason.
Vidler's is only one of the many fascinating and exciting places to see. That information my friends, is for another time, when I'll happily share with you. Til then, think, "Niagara Falls, Botanical Gardens, Museums of Art and Science and the original authentic Buffalo Chicken Wings!!"
Keep your memories alive and broaden that smile.Nothing touches our hearts like our fondest memories and the moments here and now, as we create many more.