MONDAY MUSINGS: Remember those five and ten cent stores [music and photographs]

The Five Cent Store

by

Inez McCollum

I’m not sure whether I was fourteen or fifteen when I started working on Saturday’s at the local V. J.  Elmore Store. (We called it the dime store or ten cent store.) I was young enough that a Worker’s Permit was required with the signature of my high school Principal agreeing that my grades were good enough to merit my employment.V. J. elmore


The hours on Saturday were 8:30 A.M. until 6:00 P.M. During holidays, I would work after school. I worked all day and compensation was less than one hour’s work would be today. I did earn my spending money and also bought some of my clothing. If he felt these were necessary items, my Dad would reimburse me.five and dime

I did get a lot of experience as an employee. Whenever I see Easter Baskets, I have fond memories of stuffing baskets and covering them with sheets of pastel colored cellophane. We would count or weigh each kind of candy for the basket which we had already filled with crushed paper covered with shredded cellophane. The Manager would laughingly say that after a day of working with those baskets, very little candy would be eaten by those putting the baskets together. He was absolutely correct!

I have great respect for clerks working at stores during Christmas Holidays. Being out of school during that time gave me many more hours to work each week. There was a song several years ago about a “Million Dollar Baby in the Five and Dime Store.” She might have had a million dollar smile; but she was really very tired by the end of the day.

I often worked in the cosmetic department. That was quite an education! A street beggar sat outside the store, asking passers by for money. When he would get enough money, he would come to my counter and purchase a bottle of Lilac After Shave Lotion. He would go to the alley behind the store and drink the shaving lotion. After that bit of refreshment, he would return to his spot on the sidewalk, outside the store. By the end of the day, his face would be blood red. I have often wondered how long that poor man lived or was he so pickled that he is still alive somewhere?pinaud-clubman-lilac-vegetal-after-shave-lotion

I would substitute at the candy counter during lunch break for the usual person in that area. In addition to candy, we sold popcorn, which was popped on the spot and peanuts, that were cooked at the counter. Both of these were prepared in bulk.popcorn

Another popular item was ice cream. One flavor, which we did not sell during the summer, was grape. During those days, stores were not air conditioned and the grape flavored ice cream would melt easily.Grape ice cream

I also learned to inventory. This is one experience I was able to use during my sons’ high school years. We parents would take inventory at some of the department stores as a fund raising project.

While in Branson, MO for a few days last year, I discovered an old fashioned dime store! It was nice to browse around as a customer, not an employee! They even had some of that after shave lotion. Honestly, I did not sample it!

 

Tattletale Parrot Bama Cotter, artist, owns an art and craft shop in a small town in Alabama. She inherits a dead woman’s nosy parrot, who quotes Shakespeare, and they reveal the identity of an unlikely murderer to Indian police chief, Boone Lightfoot

 

Tattletale Parrot


By (author): Ellorine Cottingham Morgan
List Price: Price Not Listed
Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only

About Inez McCollum

Inez McCollum grew up in Etowah County.  Married Mack McCollum, a BI-vocational minister.  Moved to Birmingham to work while he worked and went to Howard College/Samford University.  Inez and Mack had three sons, Jay, Joe and John.  They bought their first home in what is now Hoover.  Inez continues to be active in Shades Mountain Baptist Church and some of the civic organizations in Hoover.  Inez also enjoys reading, travel and spending time with friends.

About Inez McCollum

Inez McCollum grew up in Etowah County.  Married Mack McCollum, a BI-vocational minister.  Moved to Birmingham to work while he worked and went to Howard College/Samford University.  Inez and Mack had three sons, Jay, Joe and John.  They bought their first home in what is now Hoover.  Inez continues to be active in Shades Mountain Baptist Church and some of the civic organizations in Hoover.  Inez also enjoys reading, travel and spending time with friends.

25 Responses to MONDAY MUSINGS: Remember those five and ten cent stores [music and photographs]

  1. Lynn LupeiLynn Lupei says:

    Sounds like my experience also!

  2. oh, yes, I remember……. was there at 14

  3. Oh, yes. In West End, we had Skelton’s and Spivey’s. I could look all day…look being the key word because I had no money!

  4. Eve MulderEve Mulder says:

    I loved the Dime Stores

  5. My Mom and Dad met working at V. J. Elmore.

  6. Used to shop at the one in Oneonta, AL…back in 50’s.

  7. Yes but now they are called the $ Tree! Cost of living you know!!

  8. If no one was at the counter, you would tap on it with your nickel! This post brought this memory! Thanks!

  9. There was one in Clayton, AL also!

  10. USE TO BE ONE IN BLOUNTSVILLE, AND HANCEVILLE

  11. Georgiana Alabama folks, what was the last thing you remember buying at Mr. Wolfe’s store?

  12. jay elmore says:

    i remember– i was pretty young

  13. Lynn says:

    Moundville, AL next the local drug store/ soda fountain/ candy store was next to the Mercantile

  14. Now we have the dollar tree and the dollar store

  15. Oh no!! We’ve finally reached the point where the Ben Franklin 5&10 stores have made it to the Alabama Pioneers website. Guess I should get out and find a cane.

  16. Phil BakerPhil Baker says:

    Back around 2002, I remodeled Jay Elmore house, he is v.j. Elmore grandson. They made a killing. He is not hurting.

  17. Loved that store. Bought paper dolls there, and doubled dipped ice cream. My brother in law was a manager.

  18. Elmore’ s was a great store. The dime store.

  19. Elmore’s Five & Ten-cent Store, Andalusia, Alabama…50s.

  20. Joy HorneJoy Horne says:

    I remember them. My father helped build them all over the southeast!

  21. James Roberts says:

    James Roberts: I worked for Elmore’s when I was 16

  22. Al swann says:

    I started in management in 1968 where I met my wife in pulaski tenn, I was 17 and she was 15, I was store manager for several years in several stores and states, some good times. My wife and I are still happily married and speak of Elmore’s often, the stores were much different from dollar stores with 26 departments and a lot of brand name items, especially the shoping center and mall stores they were actually more like a mini walmart store in which I managed several of these also.

  23. Karon Jewell says:

    I also remember working at VJ Elmores, Elba, Al.. I started when I was 15, had to have a work permit. Worked on Saturdays, and after school. I worked there until I graduated high school. Fond memories. Remember doing those EAster baskets, also remember filling bags of chocolate covered peanuts and also eating my fill. I remember when we had those old timey cash registers planted over the store. Like you did we had one customer who would buy after shave and go out in the alley and drink it. I wouldn’t trade my time there for anything. Wish we still had them.

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