Five Cents to Millions
From a poor farming family, Frank Winfield Woolworth told his parents from a young age he was going to be a peddler. Instead, he got into retail, working at a dry goods store. He did not initially seem competent – the manager refused to allow him to attempt some tasks claiming he lacked the common sense for it.
Woolworth saw great potential in how the store he worked at used the merchandising strategy of five-cent pricing on particular items. Inspired, he borrowed $300 and opened his first store in New York, in which everything was priced at five cents. The store lasted a few weeks and then met total ruin. Faithful to his idea, he tried again in Pennsylvania with the addition of ten–cent items. This time he was met with success. However, his foray into opening two more stores ultimately failed.
By then Woolworth had already tasted a little bit of success and was determined to expand. Partnering with his brother, he began to bring five and ten cent stores all over the country, learning from his mistakes along the way. His stores started the practice of purchasing from manufacturers and directly selling to customers at a fixed price. By the time of his death, Woolworth had over 1000 stores. Woolworth managed to take a simple idea, and turn it into an empire of discounted stores.
Resources:https://failforthr.com/frank-winfield-woolworth-learning-from-failure/; Image Credit: Boston Public Library [Public domain], Bobby Kelley