My dad owned the local 'five and dime' store in Charles City, Iowa. The Ben Franklin was a hub of activity. The 'Ben' carried a little bit of everything. From hardware to sewing needs to candy and toys...dad's store had it all. And it was at the Ben Franklin that I learned the value of a hard day's work and the connection between a good year in the store and our family's success. When we had a good year, presents were plentiful under the tree. When times were tough the presents were less abundant.
Pictured is my brother Charley (r) and me in front of Dad's store in 1963. I started working for dad when I was 7. First I was a 'bagger' and by age 9, I was a full-fledged checker. I think I made 25 cents per hour. The lesson in handling money and people was priceless. And, although I was certain I didn't want to be in the retail business, dad's dime store taught me some powerful lessons: 1. Nothing in life comes 'free' 2. You reap what you sow. 3. When you're the boss' kid, you've gotta work harder than anyone else in the store. And 4, free candy out of the candy case is nice but will eventually make you sick.
Dad eventually sold his Ben Franklin stores. He actually had to once KMart, Walmart and other retailers started to capture marketshare with lower prices. Still, the time I had in his store was very valuable to me.
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