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William Harvey Moore - the inspiration behind the Five and Ten

 

The W.H. Moore store at American Corner in Watertown, New YorkWilliam H. Moore, who gave Frank Woolworth his first retail job in his department store in Watertown, New York.William Moore gave Frank Woolworth his first job at his Augsbury and Moore Dry Goods Store at American Corner in Watertown, New York. Four years later, when Perry Smith had replaced Morgan Augsbury as Moore's partner, the store also took on Charles Sumner Woolworth.

Moore's store went on to become the nexus for the giant Woolworth company, training many of the early managers, including Fred Kirby, Carson Peck and Alice Coons.

 

Frank Woolworth recalled his training in an interview with B.C. Forbes in 1917. William Moore had been patient as he fumbled to learn the trade. Frank admitted to Forbes that he had been useless as a clerk. He had asked too many questions and had been so nervous that he had not seen things that were right under his nose. Moore had responded by assigning his charge behind-the-scenes work in merchandising and display. It was under Moore's supervision that he had developed his passion for bold displays in the windows and on the counters in-store. It was also in his time in the Dry Goods Store that he had first come up with his red and gold colour scheme, which became part of the universal five-and-ten identity not just at Woolworth's but also at Kresge, Newberry and Kress.

But Moore was also a tough boss. When Frank demanded a pay rise and threatened to quit, he was shown the door. Woolworth returned with his tail between his legs a little over a year later.

 

An artist's impression by Gray Morrow of the original five cent table, taken from Elisabeth P Myers children's book "F. W. Woolworth Five and Ten Boy"  Library of Congress No. 62-16590.  © Copyright 1961 Bobbs Merril Co. Inc.Although Moore was much too modest to say so, it was he who had given the order to set up the fixed price 5¢ table which inspired Frank's first 'Great Five Cent Store'. He also bankrolled it, underwrote that original venture, advancing $300 of stock to help his former clerk to get started.

Frank never forgot. Moore's store hit hard times, he bailed it out, financing a restructure.¬†Knoewing Moore was a proud man he never suggested a buyout. Instead he gently helped his mentor to build a 5 & 10¢ business. He also made a point of naming W.H. Moore & Sons as part of the giant merger when his Buying Syndicate joined forces, in recognition of Moore's defining role.

 

"F.W. Woolworth Co. Principal Office" - Watertown, New York - the site of the W. H. Moore where the five and ten cent idea was first formed.  The Watertown Building carried the sign "The birthplace of the 5c and 10c business" throughout the twentieth century until it closed in 1997 as the part company opted to pursue other commercial interests.The move brought a windfall to the Moore family. They received almost half a million dollars for their Watertown and Shenectady stores and William's shares in F. W. Woolworth & Co., which he had held since 1905.

71 year old Moore senior was elected an honorary Vice President and Director of the new Corporation.  Frank valued his friendship above any other, and was deeply saddened when his mentor died suddenly in 1915 after a trip to the dentist. Frank endured dreadful toothache for the rest of life rather than risk the same fate.

As a memorial to his hero the American Corner was rebuilt and given every modern convenience. In homage to Moore the exterior appearance was preserved in all but one detail.. The fascia above the main doors incorporate the words ''birthplace of the 5¢ and 10¢ business" For many years the store served at the chain's Principal Office and was one of its most revered locations.

 

Interior and exterior views of the well appointed The W. H. Moore & Son 5 and 10 Cent Store in Shenectady, New York in around 1910. Moore was credited with coming up with the Five and Ten Cent idea and was an honorary founder of the F. W. Woolworth Co. when it was incorporated in 1912.