Woolworth, Frank Winfield, 1852-1919, American merchant, b. Rodman, N.Y. He established in 1879 a five-cent store at Utica, N.Y., which failed, and the same year he started a successful five-and-ten-cent store at Lancaster, Pa. Woolworth opened many others and soon extended business throughout the United States and to several foreign countries. In 1911 the F. W. Woolworth Company was incorporated with ownership of over 1,000 five-and-tens, and he became director of various financial firms. (The last Woolworth stores were closed in 1998.) Woolworth had the Woolworth Building erected in New York City in 1913, the highest building in the world (792 ft/241.4 m) at that time.

See J. K. Winkler, Five and Ten (1940, repr. 1970); J. P. Nichols, Skyline Queen and the Merchant Prince (1973); K. Plunkett-Powell, Remembering Woolworth's (1999).

Woolworth's, Woolworths or Woolworth may refer to one of several companies:

The original American F.W. Woolworth Company and related businesses:

  • F. W. Woolworth Company was the original USA based chain of five and dime stores.
    • Foot Locker, the current name of the company after its change in focus to athletic clothing.
    • Woolworths Group PLC is the owner of the Woolworths chain of high street shops in the UK (originally part of the F.W. Woolworth company, but separate since 1982).
    • Woolworth GmbH is the owner of the Woolworths chain of high street shops in Germany & Austria (originally part of the F.W. Woolworth company, but separate since 1998).
    • Woolworths (Cyprus), originally part of F.W. Woolworth, sold off in 1985 and subsequently split (no longer retailing under Woolworths name)

The Australian Woolworths Limited and its related businesses:

  • Woolworths Limited is the largest retail company in Australia and New Zealand. Although named after the F.W. Woolworth Company (above), it has no other connection with its U.S. namesake.

Other businesses named Woolworths:

  • Woolworths (South Africa), one of the larger South African retail chain stores affiliated to Marks and Spencer in the United Kingdom.


Woolworths have set up a Virtual Museum on the history of their company and how it began. The web address is; http://museum.woolworths.co.uk/

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