Five & Dime Company HistoryVIEW VIDEO

In August 1997, Woolworth’s announced it was closing all of its U. S. stores.  One of their busiest stores was on the Santa Fe Plaza, the center of the city’s historic downtown. Locals and tourists had treasured the store since 1935.

While reading about these closings in the morning newspaper, Deborah Potter said to her real estate lawyer husband, “Earl, we’ve got to do something about this”.   Earl took a sip of coffee and replied, “There’s nothing anyone can do.”  Deborah reminded him that he had put several businesses together and had developed a first class hotel. “The manager and employees are reading this same article,” she added.  “I’m sure they’re wondering what is going to happen to them.  This is the only locals-serving store left on the Plaza.  Once it’s gone, what quality of life will we have in our community?”  Earl quietly finished drinking his coffee.  The next day, he went to meet the Woolworth’s manager.

That first lunch meeting with Mike Collins was the beginning of a rewarding and creative friendship. Mike had worked for Woolworth’s for twenty-five years, managing twenty stores before it downsized in the 1990’s. He had already developed a plan to move the best selling items, the fixtures and the employees into a third of the store’s space, the section that was owned by Winifred Braden, a lady in Arizona.  Mike arranged a meeting with Mrs. Braden, at Earl’s law firm.  To emphasize their deep commitment to the project, the Potters brought their son, Cody, and their dog, Buster, to meet Mrs. Braden.  After the group explained their concept, she agreed to rent the space to them instead of to the many art galleries asking for it. The Potters thought the participants and the concept had won Mrs. Braden's heart. "We always remember our company exists because of her faith in us." Years later, they learned she didn’t like dogs. Winifred Braden passed away in 2005; she was an intelligent and gracious lady.

Santa Fe, New Mexico

In May 1998 the first Five & Dime General Store opened in the location of the original Woolworth's Santa Fe featuring the following items: a vast selection of souvenirs, sunglasses and post cards; a variety of every-day items, including reading glasses, camera film, batteries, greeting cards, nylons, bottled water, soft drinks, candy and snacks; travelers needs, like fanny packs, back packs, tote bags, hats, gloves, umbrellas, T-shirts, sandals, tennis shoes, and socks; a large selection of non-prescription drug items, cold remedies, sunscreen, dental floss, toothpaste, eye drops, skin and hair care products; beauty items like nail polish, mascara, lipsticks and ponytail clips; toys and novelty items for kids of all ages; office supplies and hardware items including tape, envelopes, paper clips, note pads, hammers, extension chords, paper towels and light bulbs; and our famous Frito Pie.

San Antonio, Texas

A year after we opened the Santa Fe store we began the search for an additional location on San Antonio’s busy Riverwalk. Curtis Gunn believed our concept would be lucrative. He asked a restaurant tenant to close, and he let us move into his building in the heart of the city’s busiest tourist area. In October, 2003 we opened our second Five & Dime. To manage it, we recruited Mike’s brother, Bob Collins, another 20-year Woolworth’s veteran. Together, the Collins brothers have over 50 years of retail management experience.

Branson, Missouri

In 2005, Five and Dime General Store completed lease negotiations with Urban Retail Properties, one of the nation’s leading retail third party managers.  In May 2006, we opened our third store, in Branson Landing, a 450,000 square feet lifestyle, retail, restaurant and entertainment district spanning 1.5 miles of waterfront on Lake Taneycomo. Other tenants include many top retailers: Bass Pro Shops, Brookstone, Ann Taylor, Chico’s, Disney Store, Belks department store and 90 others. We are thrilled that Urban Retail and HCW Development Company recognized the contribution our proven “something for everyone” concept would make to their ambitious and outstanding development.

San Diego, California

In the summer of 2009, we opened our first California store. Since some of us are California natives, we were excited to have a base there. Our store is in Old Town, San Diego, near the entrance to the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, California's most visited state park. Our neighbors are museums, churches, homes, a cacophony of restaurants and several other stores that provide southern California's residents and tourists with almost everything they need. The year-round sunshine and mild weather keeps visitors returning, and many residents bring them to our store because,"It has everything!"

Monterey, California

Our next California store opened in Monterey in early 2011. So close to Big Sur's breathtaking vistas and nearby Carmel, Monterey is one of our country's most beautiful places. Our store is located on historic Cannery Row, near the magnificent Monterey Bay Aquarium, "ranked among the top attractions in the world" and the Monterey Mirror Maze, a favorite for families. The area made famous by John Steinbeck is now a magnet for visitors from all over the world, and the myriad items in our store are an attraction all by themselves.

Charleston, South Carolina

In the summer of 2011, we added our first store on the east coast. This was a huge step for us. Charleston is a beautiful city with a warm climate and the site we found was perfect for us. In the heart of the city's historic area, near the Confederate Museum and across from the famous Charleston City Market, the store is a must for our neighbors and the city's visitors. Inside, people find sunscreen, insect repellent, souvenirs of the South, plus snacks, refreshments and hundreds of the everyday needs found in all of our stores.

Savannah, Georgia

To open our second store on the east coast, we were delighted to find a fantastic spot in beautiful Savannah, right on historic River Street. We are steps from downtown, in the heart of the growing and improving tourist district. At first, we thought the space was too large for us but we were delighted to see it filled with customers from the very first day. Visitors and neighbors come to our store to find things they need, things they suddenly want, or just to have lots of fun. We provide them with snacks, cold drinks, souvenirs, toiletries, cleaning products, diapers, strollers, toys, games, wonderful gag items, St. Patrick's Day party items, cell phone supplies and jewelry.

St. Augustine, Florida

As Santa Feans, it's hard to admit that St. Augustine is an older city than ours. Founded by the Spanish in 1565, this gem of a city has always seemed like an ideal location for us. In 2010 we found a fantastic building on St. George Street, the heart of the historic district. However, the building was roofless and in ruins. Our landlord was kind enough to believe in what we're doing, and he commissioned all the necessary re-building. We spent a lot of time assuring the neighboring store owners that the inconvenience of construction vehicles would result in a great store to be next to. In May, 2018 our store finally opened, the neighbors are happy and our customers love it.

Jackson, Wyoming

For fourteen years, we looked for a location in Jackson Hole. A thriving tourist economy and careful building restrictions were an ideal combination for us. The Jackson Town Square is the area with the most tourists on feet, so we concentrated our search there. Our partner, Charles Diker, was the most supportive of having a store there, so he and Val Diker enlisted their very prominent Jackson friends, Terry and Claudia Winchell, to let us know when the right property was available. Stores tend to stay full in Jackson, and employees are hard to find. In the spring of 2019, the Winchells learned that a large gallery on the town square was closing. Earl immediately flew to Jackson to meet with the building's owner. Our San Antonio manager, Bob Collins, took charge of getting the empty space ready for us. He found an excellent local manager and assistant manager, then opened the store on December 5, 2019.

New Locations

If you think there is a place for a Five & Dime General Store in your community, please contact Mike Collins at (505) 992-1800, or Earl Potter, 505-660-5182,

Ownership and Management

Five & Dime General Stores are owned and operated by UTBW (“Used To Be Woolworth’s”) LLC. Mike Collins is CEO of the company and Earl Potter is chairman.  Bob Collins manages the San Antonio Stores; he assists Mike in overseeing the Branson store and developing other potential locations.  Mike and Earl are the managers of UTBW LLC. To meet our distinguished group of members who help guide the company, please see MEET OUR PARTNERS, under Company and People.