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: