Monday, November 27, 2006

Kindly Mr. Franklin

Rob and I were driving near work the other day (we both work on the Microsoft campus in the Seattle suburb of Redmond, Washington), and spotted a Ben Franklin. We didn't go in, but I was kind of shocked that these stores still existed.

There was one of these in downtown White Bear Lake, where my folks live, and also I seem to remember one on the way to our farm in rural Wisconsin -- it was the equivalent of the town general store, the shopping mall, the Target when none of those stores existed in that area. My mom used to call them "dime stores," as in, "they'll have it at the dime store." What didn't we buy there? I seem to remember getting Easter egg dye, Halloween costumes, coloring books, swim suits and more.

The Wikipedia entry had some fascinating facts I didn't know, however, including that Ben Franklins were originally called Butler Brothers, and Wal-Mart overlord Sam Walton owned a bunch of them.

Here's their current company site, in case you want to see if any of the remaining stores are near you. Looks like the one I saw in Redmond was a Ben Franklin craft store as opposed to a variety store.


TheBrad said...

We've got 'em around these parts, one just a block or two from my office. Mostly crafts stuff, but a fantastic framing section and the penny-candy (well, "penny" candy) selection can't be beat. Notions, snacks, greeting cards...heck, you could probably live pretty well if it was the only place left to shop, and it's certainly handy to have around when you need the odd knick-knack.

Derek said...

We had these all over Nebraska. I remember the penny candy. They had little wicker baskets to mix-n-match your candies, and sure enough, $.01 each.

I got a bite-sized Bit-O-Honey there when I was in 4th grade. And it ripped a few of the braces off my teeth! I didn't learn my lesson, about a year later was The Starburst Incident.