Beginning in 1878, Frank Winfield Woolworth opened up Woolworth "five and dime" stores in Utica, New York, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, and York, Pennsylvania, but each store quickly went out of business. The first successful Woolworth location opened in Scranton, Pennsylvania, in 1880.
After the enormous success of the Scranton branch of Woolworth, Woolworth and his brother Charles Sumner Woolworth rapidly franchised the business and opened up new locations around Pennsylvania. Their first two expansion stores, which were located in Wilkes-Barre and Reading, were run by the two brothers in conjunction with their cousin Seymour H. Knox. Most early expansion occurred in Pennsylvania, but a major business merger with six other chain stores throughout the United States and Canada in 1912 set Woolworth on a path toward national retail domination.