A.L. Stickle’s Rhinebeck Roots

In Rhinebeck, N.Y., A.L. Stickle Variety Store is a staple, proudly sitting right in the middle of East Market Street. Popularized in the early 20th century, five and dime stores were an ordinary part of life, filled with various household items, toys, candy, crafts, and other everyday goods. Today, A.L. Stickle Variety Store is the only one of its kind in the area, with roots tracing back to the mid-1950s.

“My grandfather was in World War II in the Navy, and his father wrote back and said that the Ben Franklin five and ten was for sale in Rhinebeck where he grew up in,” Matt Stickle, owner of A.L. Stickle, said. “He got out of the Navy, and in 1946, they opened it.”

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A franchise, Ben Franklin was a chain of variety stores that started in 1927, just about 20 years before A.L. Stickle opened. At the time, A.L. Stickle was the only five and dime store in town, and that fact still stands today.

“A. L. Stickle comes from Alfred Lee Stickle, my grandfather’s name,” Stickle said. “When I took over 20 years ago with my wife, we incorporated it to ‘A Variety Store’.”

Inside, the store is filled with many of the same types of items that it was stocked with in its earlier years. Among the most popular items sold are retro state dish towels, Weck canning jars, toys, hardware items, and kitchen accessories. Located at the very back of the store, a huge yarn shop houses tons of knitting and related craft items.

“They sold a lot more glassware back then and they had a penny candy counter,” Stickle said. “We sell the older candies, less glassware, but we still buy from 50 companies that my grandfather was buying from 72 years ago.”

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With the same aura — and inventory — as the store from 1946, A.L. Stickle Variety Store remains a beloved fixture in Rhinebeck to both its regular customers and seasonal visitors.

“There used to be a store like this in every single town, but Wal-Mart came in and took away those family stores,” Stickle said. “This store is well-supported by the people in town. Rhinebeck has become a spot for tourists, so for people who remember five and dimes, it’s unique.”

Elizabeth PaganoComment