Samuel Henry Kress started his 5 & 10 empire in 1896 with a store in Nanticoke, Pennylvania. By the middle of the 20th century, there were S.H. Kress mercantiles in thirty states.

A shift of focus away from downtown-centric stores, and into shopping malls, was initiated in 1964. However, this couldn't save the chain from extinction. All of the competition from other 5 & 10 chains (especially Woolworth's) was too much. All S.H. Kress stores were shuttered in 1981.