Happy 93rd Birthday, Vidler’s!

July 12, 2023
Written by
Don Vidler
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As a monetary unit, a nickel hasn’t had much buying power for a long time. Even when Vidler’s 5 & 10 opened in June 1930, a five-cent coin – which then was adorned on the reverse or “tails” side with the likeness of a bison and called the Buffalo nickel -- was barely enough to buy a cup of coffee. If you wanted a copy of the daily newspaper, too, you had to part with five more cents.

As a retail symbol, though, the nickel has long been worth a lot, especially when paired with the dime to represent a business model promising customers variety, bargain prices, and one-stop convenience. Figuratively speaking, those two coins bought five-and-dime pioneer Frank Winfield Woolworth a New York City mansion. And they’ve kept us Vidlers fed and clothed for a whopping 93 years.

That’s right: This month marks the 93rd anniversary of our family-owned and -run store on Main Street in East Aurora, Vidler’s 5 & 10—the largest five-and-dime in the country, with more than 16,000 square feet of selling space.

A half-century after Woolworth opened the first five-and-dime store, in 1879, we opened ours. The impetus for that historic event was a complaint by Robert Vidler Sr.’s mother-in-law: She didn’t like having to drive all the way to Buffalo just to buy a spool of thread. Today, Vidler's is run by a third generation of the family; Robert's grandchildren carry on our magical traditions.

To recount the history of Vidler’s and the five-and-dime store in general through the lens of their two iconic coins:

  • 1879: Woolworth opens the first five-and-dime. The five-cent coin we’ll call the nickel turns 13 years old.  
  • 1930: Vidler’s opens. A nickel buys a pack of Wrigley’s chewing gum, a dime a loaf of Wonder Bread.
  • 1946: The store doubles in size. A nickel buys a 12-oz bottle of Coke, a dime four pounds of baking potatoes.
  • 1954: Vidler’s becomes known for having one of the bigger toy selections in the area. A nickel buys a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, a dime a 12-oz can of Mott’s apple juice.
  • 1960s: Two other local 5 & 10s go out of business. Vidler’s starts advertising in local newspapers. A nickel buys a green bell pepper, a dime a comic book.
  • 1987: The first “Bob & Ed” TV commercial airs. A nickel buys a piece of Bazooka bubble gum, a dime one call on a pay phone.
  • 2009: “Vidler on the Roof” is hoisted into place. A nickel is good for scratching off a lottery ticket.
  • Today: Vidler’s stocks 75,000 items in four two-story buildings, and a fifth generation of the family is working at the store. No nickel or dime required to come into the store and experience the magic. That, in Year 94 as it was in Year One, is free.  

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676-694 E Main St, East Aurora, NY 14052