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
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 (two locations)
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. The store is so popular, we now have another store, on Alamo Plaza.
In 2005, Five and Dime General Store completed lease negotiations with Urban
Retail Properties www.UrbanRetail.com,
one of the nation’s leading retail third party managers. In May
2006, we opened our third store, in Branson Landing www.BransonLanding.com,
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!"
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 www.canneryrow.com 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.
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.
Kansas City, Kansas
When the wonderful people at Legends http://www.legendsshopping.com asked
us to open a store in their center at Village West, we were delighted to join
them. Village West is all about fun, and our stores are fun! Dazzled by the
number of attractions in Village West, we are neighbors with a NASCAR track,
sports stadiums, hotels, and a huge water park. The beautiful Legends outdoor
shopping experience has a hundred shops and restaurants with whom we share
customers and provide employees with things they need in a hurry. Village West
is in the heart of the USA, at the intersection of Interstates 70 and 435, just
across the river from Kansas City, Missouri. Families come there from dozens of
states and Canada, all year round.
If you think there is a place for a Five & Dime General Store in your community, please contact Mike Collins at (505) 992-1800, mCollins@fiveanddimegs.com or
Earl Potter, 505-660-5182, ePotter@fiveanddimegs.com
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
under Company and People.