phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

"five & dime"

Posted by Smokey Stover on January 03, 2007

In Reply to: "Five & dime" posted by Bob on January 03, 2007

: : : Hi,

: : : I couldn't find the phrase "five & dime" store in your list.
: : : My understanding is the term refers to stores adopting a strategy of giving back a nickel and or dime in change to make the customer feel like he is getting extra money in return.

: : : Also couldn't find "nickel and dime"ing someone.

: : No, the term "five & dime" refers to the selling price of typical merchandise in that type of store. Even back in the old days, five or ten cents wasn't a lot of money, but there were a lot of useful things you could buy for that amount.

: : My mother and grandmother always called it the "five and ten", so "five and dime" has always sounded odd to me.

: : I often refer to my cars with the term "nickel and dime". I'll get rid of my '95 Saturn when it starts "nickel and diming" me, or in other words, when it starts needing a repair every month or two.

: F.W. Woolworth opened his first "5 and 10" in Utica, New York in 1878. A nickel and a dime had some buying power then. There
: s a good article in Wikipedia about the phenomenon.

: And there's the song:

: It was a lucky April shower
: It was a most convenient door
: I found a million dollar baby in a five and ten cent store
: The rain continued for an hour
: I hung around for three our four
: Around a million dollar baby in a five an ten cent store
: She was selling china
: And when she made those eyes
: I kept buying china until the crowd got wise
: Incidentally
: If you should run into a shower
: Just step inside my cottage door
: And meet the million dollar baby from the five and ten cent store

You may not know that Kmart stores are the modern descendants of the original Kresge's variety stores, which first opened in 1912. They haven't been a five-and-ten for a long time, and in 1962 started renaming stores (and naming new ones) as Kmart. Recently the firm went through banruptcy and then merged with Sears, another struggling retailer which used to be called Sears, Roebuck, and competed for a long time with Montgomery Ward, also known as Monkey Ward. Jay Leno regularly makes contemptuous fun of Kmart, but it's a place I like to shop. Or used to; the one nearest me closed a decade ago.