Here was the scenario when I was a kid growing up in the small town of Sac City, Iowa and in so many others like it.

We had a pizza place, two banks, two gas stations, a hospital, a small grocery, and a family-style restaurant. Ok so there might have been more stuff than that, but barely.

We had to go to Carroll or Storm Lake for "big groceries" but every town needs a little "five and dime" store as they were once called for all your little necessities that you didn't have time to go to those other places for. Cheap stuff that you really needed (and maybe a few things you didn't) lined the aisles at these stores.

Enter Ben Franklin. Think Dollar General (which ironically Sac City and almost everywhere else has now) but with a little bit more personal touch. I mean, look how freakin' quaint this place looks.

Google Maps
Google Maps

The company, according to Wikipedia, originated in Boston in 1877 as Butler Brothers, a mail-order wholesaler selling general and variety-store items. At the turn of the 20th century, Butler Brothers had over 100,000 customers in the United States.

At one time, there were a total of 2,500 of these stores nationwide and about 100 in Iowa. It's hard to tell how many are left now, but it's now less than 5 in Iowa. According to KCRG, the store in Winterset has been around for 83 years, and for 44 of them, it has been run by Dave and Judy Trask.

The Trasks are about to retire, closing the door on December 20 on another brand that has long been a staple of so many of our lives. Another one in Nevada, Iowa closed on November 23. Its owner, Fred Samuelson is also retiring.

The two remaining Ben Franklin stores are in Eagle Grove and Sheldon. But the unfortunate fact is these "five and dime" stores (called that because back in the day you could literally buy stuff for a nickel or dime...or some combination...way back when) are falling by the wayside. We salute you, Ben Franklin for being a huge part of our upbringing and for lasting as long as you have.

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