Monday, January 5, 2015

Five and Dimes - Nashville

Most native Nashville residents over 50, have memories of shopping at a five and ten cent store, in downtown Nashville. These variety stores were called, the five and ten, the nickel or dime, the five and dime, five and ten cent store or simply the dime store.  Kress, Woolworth and McClellan are the stores, I remember.  These stores were located on 5th Avenue North, between Church Street and Union Street. 

Morris Frank and guide dog crossing 5th Ave. North, ca 1930, Ralph Mitchell

When this above photo of 5th Avenue North, was made around 1930, the block was already home to several five and dime stores.  The S. H. Kress store, located at 237-39 5th Avenue North opened about 1900, when the name of the street was North Summer. Kress had been previously located on Union Street. The Woolworth's store opened at 221-223 5th Avenue North in 1913.  McLellan's was a newcomer when the photo was made, having opened at 229-33 5th Avenue North in 1927. In the early years of the five and dime, all merchandise in the store could be bought for 5, 10 or 15 cents.  I remember buying Christmas gifts for my parents, at these stores when I was young.  A bottle of cologne for Mama might have cost 15 cents while a package of handkerchiefs for Daddy could be had for a dime.  Most dime stores had lunch counters, where ladies in white or pastel uniform dresses sold hamburgers, blue plate specials and ice cream sundaes and banana splits. 

In 1935 the old buildings that Kress occupied were razed, and a new store built on the same site.  Foster and Creighton were the contractors on the job.  According to an article written by George Zepp, in May of 2002 for his Learn Nashville column, the new store opened on, "Tuesday, Feb. 18, 1936." 

Creighton Collection, Nov. 28, 1935, Metro Nashville Archives.

                                               McLellan's Grand Reopening, May 18, 1942. Image courtesy of Vickey Setters.                                                
This photo of McLellan's is from the collection of Vickey Setters. The photo was shared by George Zepp.  McLellan's had originally opened in 1927.  The short curly hair styles, the shorter skirts and the black and white saddle oxford that some of the young women are wearing, fit right in with McLellan's grand re-opening on May 18, 1942. The stoe had undergone extensive remodeling.

A 2013 view of 5th Avenue North. Both the McLellan and Kress buildings are visible.
Not a five and ten cent store to be found on 5th Avenue North today.  The old buildings remain, some with a mix of retail, office and residential space.