Albany’s First Dollar Store

15941115_1196465237068403_3097582177788813151_nThere can be no doubt that in 1870, a “Dollar Store” had a different meaning than it does today. The Tweddle Hall Dollar Store of Albany, located in the bottom of Tweddle Hall at the corner of State and N. Pearl was proud of its white metal show cases, its “immence” stock of beautiful and desirable articles, and, perhaps not least, its polite and attentive young ladies. Dollar stores started to pop in large cities in the mid-1860s, but didn’t come to Albany until a couple of years later. They were such a marvel they were recommended in sightseeing guides. The Dollar Stores sold every conceivable household utensil, ornament, notion and fancy good – from books to umbrellas. Up until this time, most of the store clerks were men, but the Dollar Stores wanted to appeal to men, so they employed young women. It was said that in some of the Dollar Stores in NYC, young women worked for free in the hopes of meeting a husband. By the mid 1870’s the novelty of the Dollar Store wore off and in Albany (as elsewhere in the country) enterprising businessmen, like Mr. Myers and Mr. Whitney, who previously sold only dry goods, were opening department stores on N. Pearl Street, with a broader range of better quality goods and a more uniform and stable inventory (unlike the Dollar Store that sourced its goods on an ad hoc and random basis to get good wholesale prices). By 1876 the Dollar Store moved out of the prestigious Tweddle Hall address and down the street to 55 N. Pearl St. and re-styled itself as the Variety Bazaar. The Bazaar lasted only a short time- within 5 years it closed, soon replaced by Mr. Woolworth and his five and ten cent store in the same block. Sidenote: Tweddle Hall caught fire in 1883 – it was re-built and named the Tweddle Building – just another office building. That was demolished in 1916 to make way for an addition to the Ten Eyck Hotel next door. The Hotel was demolished around 1973 and a Citizen’s Bank is located there today. BUT the building to which the Dollar Store moved on N. Pearl remains. In the first half (and then some) of the 20th century it was a swanky women’s apparel store called Muhlfelders. Today it’s the Capitol American Eatery and Lounge. Thanks to Laura Northrup-the and Carl Johnson –


Copyright 2021 Julie O’Connor


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