New Five & Dime doc tells the history of one of the Plaza’s oldest institutions
When fabled retail biz Woolworths closed its Plaza location alongside all its other stores in 1997, Santa Feans felt weirdly and unexpectedly emotionally devastated. This was a store, mind you, just a place to buy things, yet its closure represented a sort of death knell for locals’ sense of a shared ownership of the city center.
Elders might recall when the Plaza played host to barber shops, a lumber yard, JC Penney and even a grocery. Over time, the Plaza took on a tone of bric-a-brac for tourists: pricey galleries and businesses with faux Santa Fe aesthetics and the like. And then came the Five & Dime in 1998. Love it, hate it or feel nothing about it whatsoever, the store remains a bit of an odd beacon for locals, borderline expensive though it may be—a reminder of a time when there was a place to grab this or that downtown.
In upcoming documentary A Five & Dime Story from director and documentarian Sarah Kanafani, viewers learn the history behind the rise of Woolworths, that company’s demise and the beginnings of Five & Dime—a business owned by Santa Fe’s Earl and Deborah Potter, and now one of nine throughout the country. The Potters produced the film and, Kanafani says, plan to use it as a recruitment tool for would-be employees. Still, she adds, it presents a part of local history.
“When Woolworths closed, downtowns everywhere had started to veer away from serving local communities,” Kanafani tells SFR. “Woolworths opened in 1870, and when you look at some of the old shops from the time, all their products were behind counters, away from the customers; Woolworths designed their stores with this concept of market stalls, where customers could pick items up, touch them feel them—and they had these sections with items that literally cost 5 cents or 10 cents.”
Those price points might be long gone, but Kanafani says the Potters’ vision still has value in making places like the Plaza gathering spaces for communities. Deborah Potter, for example, had a major role in today’s permanent bandstand (the hows and whys of which are covered in the film). And there’s lots more to learn from there, including info on that downright historic Frito pie.
Kanafani and others from her Luminance Pictures production company join the Potters for a reception followed by a screening and Q&A sponsored by the Santa Fe International Film Festival at the CCA this weekend. (Alex De Vore)
A Five & Dime Story Screening and Discussion: 2 pm Saturday, Dec. 2. $8. Center for Contemporary Arts, 1050 Old Pecos Trail, (505) 982-1338
We usually don’t feature Wednesday events on our Picks page from the same day our issue drops—not enough time to make plans, we reckon—but we wanted you to know we’ve got a little reception/reading brewing for the winners of our 2023 Writing Contest. Perhaps you read last week’s fiction winners and are holding this week’s nonfiction issue in your very hands (or on your very screen)? Judged by authors Kirstin Valdez Quade and Jenn Shapland, the slew of stories from Santa Feans impresses yearly, but this particular crop, we feel, are some of the best. Join your local wordsmiths, plus SFR staffers and Shapland, at Midtown theater Teatro Paraguas to catch more hot word action. (ADV)
SFR’s 2023 Writing Contest Reception: 6 pm Wednesday, Nov. 29. Free. Teatro Paraguas, 3205 Calle Marie Ste. B
The Absolute Tits
Hey, gang, your old pal Alex De Vore, the arts editor, here. I’d like to use my considerable clout to endorse local indie-rock supergroup Titmaüs. Part of this springs from my never-ending desire to have bands in town that do anything even slightly related to punk rock, but I recommend you see the show because the band is just plain good. Featuring the likes of Jon Courtney, Jason Goodyear, Lisa Jo Goldman and Sarah Meadows, Titmaüs blends shades of REM, Hüsker-Dü, Sleater-Kinney and Agent Orange—a solid garagey rock with punk undertones from a gaggle of talented nerds. Also hear City of My Death, a super-rad post-punk act featuring similarly notable Santa Fe music champs. (ADV)
Titmaüs and City of My Death: 8 pm Friday Dec. 1. Free. Second Street Brewery (Rufina Taproom), 2920 Rufina St., (505) 954-1068
It seems no matter how many think pieces pop up telling the world guitar-driven music is dead, people just keep on coming up with new ways to keep shredding alive. In this instance, we mean South Carolina’s Emery, a band described often as post-hardcore, but one promising so much more. This one’s for fans of indie-emo titans like Rescue or newer radio rock bands like 30 Seconds to Mars. That means vocal harmonies and counterpoints, but also towering guitar riffage and pretty accoutrements throughout the sort of emotive singing that reminds us what it is to be bummed out. Naw, but furreal, it will be a good time. The Almost and Bad Luck open. (ADV)
Emery: 7 pm Tuesday, Dec. 5. $33.46-$73.37. Tumbleroot Brewery & Distillery, 2791 Agua Fría St., (505) 303-3808