Lamston's 5 and Dime, Mainstay of the 1950's and 60's

Lamston's 5 and Dime, Mainstay of the 1950's and 60's

Journeys into Hackensack

Technically, they were described as variety stores. We all called them five and ten cent stores. At one time the five and dime was an integral part of an American Main Street.

In fact, there was even a popular song about them.

Courtesy: Warholsoup via You Tube

The concept of the variety store originated with the five and ten, five and dime, nickel or dime, and ten-cent store or dime store (10 cents), a store offering a wide assortment of inexpensive items for personal and household use.

The originators of the concept were the Woolworth Bros., in July 1879. Woolworth Bros. later became F. W. Woolworth Company or just "Woolworth's." On 21 June 1879, Frank Winfield Woolworth opened his first successful five-cent store in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, after a failed attempt with a store he opened on 22 February 1879, in Utica, New York. Frank soon brought his brother Charles Sumner "Sum" Woolworth into the business. Together they opened a second store in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, on 18 July 1879. Eventually they could be found worldwide, but especially in the U.S., Canada and the U.K. For a long time they were known as five and dimes, but eventually the name variety store began to take hold, merchandisers  facing the reality that some products could cost 20 cents or even more.

In its time Hackensack could boast of three such 5 and 10 cent stores - and each had its devoted clientele.

There was Kresge towards to the south, and the better known and established Woolworths near Mercer Street. My Mom took us there at times, but more often she shopped up the street a ways at the third of such stores, M.H. Lamston, located next door to Arnold Constable.

Lamston was first founded in 1934, and lasted in name until the 1980's, though their peak was over by the mid-1960's.

In Hackensack Lamston's sold items ranging from clothing, shoes, dishes, glassware and more.

We often stopped at the counter for a grilled cheese, burger, fries and a coke (Except for when Mom chose a more "luxurious" lunch at Arnold Constable next door). It was a place to eat convenient to the Fox and Oritani theaters just up the street.

By 1977 it was all gone, another victim of shifting tastes which favored the shopping centers in Paramus.

These days there are "Dollar Stores" to be found locally, but they are a different animal - reflecting another time and sensibility, both by merchants and shoppers.

Lamston's, in its time, offered low prices but also quality - as well as a good meal.

Note: A good book to read about Lamston's and to see some great pictures of Hackensack as it was is Images of America: Hackensack.