This Arlington five-and-dime store’s run is coming to an end after 64 years

"I’ve enjoyed every second that I've been here."

MAY 26, 2000:  ARLINGTON HEIGHTS:  Merchandise james aisle of Balich 5 & 10.

Inside Balich 5 & 10 in 2000. –John Blanding / The Boston Globe, File

The more-than-six-decade-long run of Balich 5 & 10 is coming to an end.

The aptly named Arlington five-and-dime store, a longtime town cornerstone, will close for good next month, according to owner Joe Balich.

“I’ve enjoyed every second that I’ve been here,” Balich told “I love my loyal customers.”

The 65-year-old, second-generation owner of the family store announced earlier this week that he was retiring, but that’s not the only reason that Balich is permanently closing up shop.

“What hastened my decision was the fact that business has been slowing down to the point where it was hard to pay all my bills,” he said. “I would’ve stayed longer if business was good.”


The Arlington Heights variety store first opened in 1954 and was bought by Balich’s father in 1972. Like a smaller department store, Balich 5 & 10 offers everything from vintage candy to hardware to wiffle ball bats to seasonal holiday decor to yarn.

“We specialize in hard to find items,” Balich said.

As much as anything, the 64-year-old store has offered the affluent Boston suburb a taste of the past, when the items it sold really were either five or ten cents. However, the profit margins on nostalgia aren’t what they used to be.

Balich says the demand for five-and-dime stores, an increasing rarity, has fallen dramatically since his father owned the company and attributes the “tough retail environment” to increased online shopping at retail giants like Amazon.

“I don’t have many millennials shopping here,” he said. “They’re not replacing people.”

According to Balich, the store wasn’t profitable enough to sell, nor did it present a promising enough future for either of his two sons, 27 and 21, to follow in his footsteps. Balich says he plans to officially close at some point in mid-June, depending how much of the remaining inventory he sells.

“I really loved the business,” he said. “I probably stayed on a few years too many.”


While Balich says he’ll miss his everyday customers and friends who come into the store, as well as the adventure of running a small business, he’s hoping to make the most of his retirement. Specifically, Balich is looking forward to spending more time with his wife and dog.

“It’s been a good run,” he said.


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