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Frank Woolworth - Price-Driven Retail Chain Pioneer (1852-1919)

On Delegation & Success : "So long as I was obsessed with the idea that I must attend personally to everything, large-scale success was impossible. A man must select able lieutenants and/or associates and give them power and responsibility." (Frank Woolworth)

Key Work

Despite his humble farming background and many early setbacks in his career, he became one of the richest men in America. A was the pioneer of price-driven retail building an empire founded on chain stores and volume retailing. Later followed by companies such as Wal-Mart, K-Mart and others

Form a single store in 1879 to a thousand in 1918, the growth of F.W. Woolworth & Co. was phenomenal, changing the nature of retailing and bringing its founder riches and fame. Woolworths was the original price-driven retail chain. The secret of his success he put down to delegating well.

  • Worked at Augsbury & Moore's store.
  • Rolled out his "five cents" table concept causing a stir in U.S. retailing.
  • First Woolworth store opens New York.
  • Becomes a leading US retail chain with the 1000th store opened on Fifth Avenue, New York

Books & References:

  • Baker, Nina Brown. Nickels & dimes: The story of F. W. Woolworth . New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1954.
  • Plunkett-Powell, Karen. Remembering Woolworth's: A Nostalgic History of the World's Most Famous Five-and-Dime. New York: St Martin's Press, 1999.
  • Winkler, John Kennedy. Five and Ten: The Fabulous Life of F. W. Woolworth. Freeport, NY: Books for Libraries Press, 1970.

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 Last Updated: January 1, 2022.

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