Five and Dime Store

NORTHVILLE – When Dollar General made overtures to the village about possibly locating a store there, Brian Correll knew things were going to need to change at the Five and Dime.

“The village didn’t really want it, they went to all of the meetings and they were able to keep it from happening in town because they liked the Five and Dime. But the sad truth is that at the Five and Dime we can’t compete with the dollar stores, Walmart, Rite Aide right down the street sells everything we used to sell,” he said. “We’ve had to reinvent ourselves just to stay in business and the problem is we can’t buy in bulk the way they do, but what’s become even a bigger problem is the expense of the shipping. We just got a $400 candy order and $80 of the order is the shipping.”

Brian Correll’s wife Susan Correll and her family have owned the Five and Dime for decades. Brian said the Five and Dime has been open since 1907, which he believes makes it the oldest in the United States. Another contender for the title, Berdine’s Five and Dime in Harrisville, West Virginia, claims it has been open since 1908.

“We are a year older than they are,” Brian said.

Both stores have some of the same characteristics indicative of the old Five and Dime type of store, including vintage tin ceilings.

Brian said the Five and Dime business model is basically that of an early to mid-century general store but also included novelties, items priced in the nickel and dime range.

“They were like Walmart, 55 years before Walmart,” he said.

And for many decades that’s what the Northville Five and Dime -operating under different names including RG DeWitt Co. and J.J. Newbury’s – did for Northville and its summer tourists. The store provided general merchandise, camping equipment, a little bit of everything.

Alberta Blowers, who’s worked at the store for about 52 years, has had the somewhat bizarre experience of watching the store she worked in for decades transform from a more modern business model into a vintage business model similar to the one that predated her employment.

“Now we’ve gone into having a fudge counter and penny candy. This started July 3 of last year,” Blowers said. “Now we have the older toys and stuff, where we didn’t before and we never had the penny candy before, we just had candy bars. We changed the whole inside around.”

Brian said the store is keeping its vintage wooden floors and exposing some of its original shelving, all with an aim toward attracting more tourists looking for an experience.

“Us bringing in the old tin toys, we’ve always toys, but this is stuff more in keeping with what the baby boomers had when they were growing up or even before that,” he said. “We need to be different. We are considering doing something with the Internet with the fudge and possibly the toys. We’re more concerned this year with the brick and morter end of it, but we will start advertising on a website later this year or next year.”