Worth Every Trip ❤️

By Gail Moore Woltkamp

In my very early childhood, at least twice a week, my grandmother and I would walk a few residential blocks from my house, pass by several store fronts, including my dad’s barbershop, to the Woolworth’s store in downtown Independence, Kansas.

Once reaching our destination, our shopping experience was never disappointing. Sweeper bags, hula hoops, aspirin or a hairbrush, Woolworth’s was THE place for buying whatever we wanted or needed.

As soon as we walked through the door, the smells of perfume and day-old popcorn would welcome us back like an old friend. Down the slanted entry ramp and onto the wide-open fluorescent-lit shopping space, Grandma would head for the household items and I would go directly to the aisle filled with miniature ceramic figurines.

After shopping the aisles and purchasing our must-haves, we would go to the lunch counter and order a grilled cheese sandwich and what was to me, their signature drink: a concoction of orange juice, milk, crushed ice and phosphate, aptly named the “Orange Whip.”

To this day I have dreams about that Woolworth’s. From the classic fluorescent luncheonette sign to the endless aisles filled with ten cent treasures…Woolworth’s, no doubt, made an impact on me.

Always worth a trip to Woolworth’s.
Late 1960s-early 70s purchases from the Woolworth’s store in Independence, Kansas ❤️

A 1960’s glimpse of the Woolworth’s store in the background during the Neewollah Festival
Independence, Kansas
1967 Neewollah Program, Neewollah, Inc. Courtesy of Moore Family Collections

Retail Pioneers

Woolworth’s history in my hometown in Kansas and town’s and cities across the country is a long and thriving one. Some deem the F.W. Woolworth Company the most successful five and dime chain store in all retail history.

Although the first store that opened its doors in Utica, New York, failed, Frank and Charles, the Woolworth brothers, opened a new store that would be the first successful “Great Five Cent Store.”

Famous Lunch Counter ❤️

F.W. Woolworth Company Signature Florescent Luncheonette sign. Photo courtesy of Google Images

On February 1, 1960, four African American students from the Agricultural and Technical College of North Carolina sat down at a Woolworth’s lunch counter at 123 S. Elm Street in Greensboro, North Carolina. Up to that point, the lunch counter had been for “whites only.”

When the students were refused a cup of coffee and asked to leave the lunch counter, the four freshmen refused to get up. The “Greensboro Four” or the “A&T Four,” as they would later be known, stayed until the store closed. Each day, the number of student peaceful protesters grew while other cities in North Carolina launched their own “sit-ins.” (International Civil Rights Museum Website)

A sit-in movement spawned in additional cities and states in the South. After nearly six months of boycotts, store owners abandoned their segregation policies.

Visit the sites! 🧡

In 1993, a section of the Greensboro Woolworth’s lunch counter was relocated to the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center, 14th Street and Constitution Avenue N.W., in Washington D.C.

A section of the lunch counter from the Greensboro, North Carolina Woolworth’s is now preserved in the Smithsonian Institution
National Museum of American History.
Photo Courtesy of the Creative Commons Attribution- Share Alike

The remaining portion of the lunch counter, including the stools where the “Greensboro Four” sat, has been preserved in its original Woolworth location, 134 S. Elm Street, Greensboro, NC, now home to the International Civil Rights Center & Museum, which opened on February 1, 2010, the fiftieth anniversary of the original sit-in. info@sitinmovement.org

Standing Up by Sitting Down

An additional exhibit titled “Standing Up by Sitting Down” honoring the first national peaceful protest in America is displayed at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel. This exhibit includes original interactive video footage and honors the original 1960s sit-ins in the South.

Trip to the National Civil Rights Museum, at the Lorraine Motel, 450 Mulberry Street, Memphis, TN with my cousin, Christopher Jardine (2019)
“Standing Up by Sitting Down”
The first national peaceful protest in America is honored through this permanent exhibit located at the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, 450 Mulberry Street in Memphis, TN. (2019)
Photo by Gail Moore Woltkamp

Woolworth’s Today ❤️

The last Woolworth’s store in the United States closed its doors in 1997. While other retailers have used its name in many variations across the world, only a couple of those chains and corporations are currently connected to the original F.W. Woolworth Company brand.

In the U.S. the company restructured, existing as Foot Locker, Inc. which sells sports apparel and footwear, and is traded on the New York Stock Exchange. (FL) ☮️


International Civil Rights Center and Museum website


National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel website

NYSE: The New York Stock Exchange (Website)


“Remembering Woolworth’s, A Nostalgic History of the World’s Most Famous Five and Dime,”Karen Plunkett-Powell, St. Martin’s Press; 1999

Smithsonian Institution National Museum of American History website


Published by Lemon Twist

💛Kansas City Girl 💛Freelance Writer 💛Baker University Grad 💛Love my family, my hometown and anything from the 1960s and 70s 💛🍋💛

6 thoughts on “Worth Every Trip ❤️

  1. I just found your blog! Amazing stuff! You’re a great writer, Gail. History (especially local) is so interesting.


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