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Franklin Winfield Woolworth
Born April 13, 1852(1852-04-13)
Rodman, New York
Died April 8, 1919 (aged 66)
Glen Cove, New York
Residence Winfield Hall
Known for F.W. Woolworth Company
Spouse(s) Jennie Creighton (m. 1876–1919) «start: (1876)–end+1: (1920)»"Marriage: Jennie Creighton to Franklin Winfield Woolworth" Location: (linkback:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franklin_Winfield_Woolworth)
Relatives Barbara Hutton, granddaughter

Franklin Winfield Woolworth (April 13, 1852 – April 8, 1919) was the founder of F.W. Woolworth Company (now Foot Locker), an operator of discount stores that priced merchandise at five and ten cents. He pioneered the now-common practices of buying merchandise direct from manufacturers and fixing prices on items, rather than haggling.

Contents

Biography

Frank Winfield Woolworth was born in 1852 on the family's meager potato farm in Rodman, New York, about eleven miles south of Watertown, the son of John Hubbell Woolworth and Fanny McBrier. He got his first job as a stock boy in a general store. On June 11, 1876 he married Jennie Creighton (1853 – 1924), with whom he would have three daughters: [1].He had 3 daughters and one, Edna, commited suicide.

He died in 1919 at Winfield Hall, his mansion in Glen Cove.

The son of a farmer, Woolworth aspired to be a merchant. In 1873, he started working in a drygoods store in Watertown, New York. He worked for free for the first three months, because the owner claimed "why should I pay you for teaching the business?". He remained there for six years. There he observed a passing fad: Leftover items were priced at five cents and placed on a table. Woolworth liked the idea, so he borrowed $300 to open a store where all items were priced at five cents.

Woolworth's first five-cent store, established in Utica, New York on February 22, 1879, failed within weeks. At his second store, established in Lancaster, Pennsylvania in April 1879, he expanded the concept to include merchandise priced at ten cents. The second store was successful, and Woolworth and his brother, Charles Sumner Woolworth, opened a large number of five-and-ten-cent stores. His original employer was made a partner.

In 1911, the F.W. Woolworth Company was incorporated, uniting 586 stores founded by the Woolworth brothers and others. In 1913, Woolworth built the Woolworth Building in New York City at a cost of $13.5 million in cash. At the time, it was the tallest building in the world, measuring 792 feet, or 241.4 meters.

Woolworth's wealth also financed the building of his mansion, Winfield Hall in Glen Cove, Long Island in 1916. The grounds of the estate required 70 full time gardeners and the 56 room mansion required dozens of servants just for basic upkeep. The home's decor reflected Woolworth's fascinations with Egyptology, Napoleon and spiritualism (a huge pipe organ that Woolworth learned to play late in life combined with a planetarium style ceiling to provide an intentionally eerie effect) and was built with no expenses spared: the pink marble staircase alone cost $2 million to construct.

In 1978 the abandoned and largely gutted mansion became the home of Monica Randall, a respected writer and photographer married to a German businessman, who wrote a memoir of her experiences there entitled Winfield: Living in the Shadow of the Woolworths. Other notable residents of Winfield were the Reynolds family of R. J. Reynolds Tobacco Company and Reynolds Aluminum.

His granddaughter Barbara Hutton would gain much publicity for her lifestyle, squandering more than $50 million. Hutton likely named her London, UK mansion after her grandfather's Long Island estate.

Woolworth's tomb in Woodlawn Cemetery, Bronx

Death

Woolworth died on April 8, 1919, five days before his 67th birthday. At the time, his company owned more than 1,000 stores in the United States and other countries and was a $65 million ($805,849,421 in 2009 dollars) corporation. He died without signing his newest will, so his demented wife received the estate under the provision of his older 1889 will.[2]

Legacy

Bronze busts honoring Woolworth and seven other industry magnates stand outside between the Chicago River and the Merchandise Mart in downtown Chicago, Illinois.

By 1997, the original chain he founded had been reduced to 400 stores, and other divisions of the company began to be more profitable than the original chain. The original chain went out of business on July 17, 1997, as the firm began its transition into Foot Locker, Inc..

The UK stores continued operating (albeit under separate ownership since 1982) after the US operation ceased under the Woolworth name and by the 2000s traded as Woolworths Group. The final U.K. stores ceased trading January 6, 2009. The UK Woolworths brand was bought by Shop Direct Group in the UK who plan to run the store online only.

Woolworths continues to operate in Germany. Woolworths pty. Ltd. retailers in Australia have no connection to F. W. Woolworths or the original Woolworths corporation.

Mr. Woolworth was inducted into the Junior Achievement U.S. Business Hall of Fame in 1995.[3]

He has a cemetery named for him east of Watertown, NY where he started his first store.[4]

See also

References

External links

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