In our present generation of mammoth discount chains, wholesale membership outlets, and internet buying, it has been increasingly difficult for the pioneer – older, more established retail chains – to continue to operate, the latest casualty being Montgomery Ward. What was once known as «America’s Store», the venerable F.W. Woolworth Company, has disappeared from downtowns and shopping centers as shopping trends and merchandising have changed.
This story of one of the five founders of the Woolworth Company, Earle Perry Charlton, chronicles his life (both personal and professional) and what it was like to establish a new type of business in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Starting with meager savings and little capital of his own, he established a chain of fifty-three E.P. Charlton five & ten cent stores that was based in Fall River, Massachusetts, and stretched across Canada and the west coast of the United States from Seattle to San Diego, before joining with four other friendly competitors in 1912 to form what was to become the F. W. Woolworth Company.