TOEFL IBT Reading Practice Test 03

Passage 3

Business History

Kress Five-and-Dimes

==> American discount stores have a long history. The peak of their popularity came during the early to mid-1900s, when they were commonly known as “five and-dimes,” a reference to the price range of a majority of their merchandise. One of the most successful chains of five-and-dimes was S. H. Kress & Co. By the middle of the twentieth century, there were hundreds of Kress stores situated in cities in twenty-eight states, including Hawaii. In addition to providing quality items at low prices, they also possessed truly unique and appealing designs that made them an American cultural icon.

==> Samuel Henry Kress, the founder of the chain, opened his first five-and-dime in Memphis, Tennessee, in 1896 and quickly expanded to other locations. One of the things that, from the very beginning, set his stores apart from the competition was his use of high-quality, aesthetically appealing materials in their construction. Everything was meticulously implemented to draw customers in and encourage them to linger in the store. Display windows of curved glass gave way to ornamental interiors of marble, fine woods, and brightly lit chandeliers. This exquisite setting was then filled with an enormous selection of products, from clothing to groceries to various other household goods. In addition to shopping, customers were free to enjoy the store’s lounge rooms and the soda fountain located in its basement. During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Kress five-and-dimes served as popular meeting places and offered diversions from the hardships people were facing.

==> However, the store interiors were not the only attraction of the Kress chain, for each location’s facade also represented a stunning architectural achievement. [A] In one of his truly original innovations, Kress created an architectural division within his company, whose employees were responsible for developing exterior designs for the stores.[B] While such centralized control meant that every building displayed certain unifying elements, the remarkable thing about Kress architecture was that each store was fashioned specifically to complement the structures that surrounded it, as well as the culture of the area. [C] Frequently erected along cities’ primary downtown thoroughfares, Kress five- and dimes both blended with and helped define the Main Streets of twentieth century America.[D]

==> Many of the country’s businesses suffered from the onset of the Great Depression in 1929. For S. H. Kress & Co., on the other hand, this event presented the optimum opportunity for growth. Taking advantage of the cheap labor and materials that resulted from the economic downturn, Kress was able to construct many more stores than would have been possible otherwise. He recognized that the recession would not last forever and continued to develop his chain’s reputation for luxurious discount shopping. By 1944, there were more than 200 Kress five- and-dimes operating throughout the U.S.

==> It was also during the Depression and World War II eras that some of the most architecturally memorable Kress buildings were produced. These were largely the work of Edward Sibbert, who headed the company’s design team for several years around this time. He was responsible for introducing a flexible variety of modem styles that further elevated the prestige of Kress stores. Many of Sibbert’s creations have been hailed by architects for their sophistication and attention to detail. His masterpiece, the seven-story complex on the comer of Fifth Avenue and 39th Street in New York City, received an award for its design and stood with pride as the company’s principal outlet.

In 1964, S. H. Kress & Co. was acquired by Genesco Inc., a clothing retailer. It began the process of closing down the less profitable Kress stores until, in 1980, it decided to dissolve the company altogether. Kress’s legacy, however, has survived, as Main Streets in cities all over America still contain their monumental Kress buildings. Though the old five-and-dimes are now filled with different businesses, as mementos from a time when a city’s Main Street was the center of its community and culture, they are valuable resources for municipalities currently seeking to revitalize their downtown districts.

26. Why does the author mention Hawaii in paragraph 1?

(A) To identify the state with the most Kress five-and-dimes
(B) To discuss the high demand for discount stores in the 1900s
(C) To illustrate the extent of the Kress chain’s presence
(D) To relate the origin of the term “five-and- dimes”
Paragraph 1 is marked with an arrow ==>

27. The word they in the passage refers to

(A) five-and-dimes
(B) Kress stores
(C) states
(D) items

28. The word meticulously in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) poorly
(B) carefully
(C) rapidly
(D) quietly

29. From paragraph 2, it can be inferred that most owners of discount stores around 1900

(A) stocked the same basic inventory of products
(B) did not concentrate as much on their stores’ appearances as Kress did
(C) achieved more success than Kress did
(D) were not interested in competing with Kress’s chain of stores
Paragraph 2 is marked with an arrow ==>

30. The word linger in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) remain
(B) move
(C) consider
(D) release

31. In paragraph 3, what does the author state about the locations of Kress five-and-dimes?
(A) They were concentrated in the regions with the richest cultures.
(B) They were distributed evenly throughout the United States.
(C) They were generally built in areas that lacked large structures.
(D) They were often situated on the main road of a city.
Paragraph 3 is marked with an arrow [==>].

32. The word optimum in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) total
(B) common
(C) best
(D) strangest

33. From the information in paragraph 2 and paragraph 4, what can be inferred about Kress stores in the 1930s?

(A) They sold mainly luxurious products to their customers.
(B) They were used as community centers for out-of-work laborers.
(C) They did good business despite poor national economic conditions.
(D) They were constructed from materials of substandard quality.
Paragraph 2 and paragraph 4 are marked with arrows

34. The word hailed in the passage is closest in meaning to

(A) taken
(B) ignored
(C) found
(D) praised

35. According to paragraph 5, Edward Sibbert was

(A) employed by S. H. Kress & Co.

(B) the owner of a New York City store

(C) a good friend of Samuel Kress

(D) hired by an architectural firm
Paragraph 5 is marked with an arrow ==>

36. The author discusses Genesco Inc. in paragraph 6 to

(A) describe what happened to the Kress five-and-dimes after they became retail clothing shops
(B) provide a reason for why so many of the Kress buildings are still standing today
(C) demonstrate the competition that the Kress company faced from 1964 to 1980
(D) explain the disappearance of Kress stores in the latter part of the twentieth century
Paragraph 6 is marked with an arrow ==.>.

37. Which of the sentences below best expresses the essential information in the highlighted sentence in the passage? Incorrect choices change the meaning in important ways or leave out essential information.

(A) The buildings that once held the popular five-and-dimes are now home to a variety of different businesses with relatively short histories.
(B) Despite serving different functions today, the old store buildings symbolize cities’ more centralized pasts and play a role in urban renewal projects.
(C) In the past, most Main Streets in America contained at least one discount store, but today most of them have been forced to close.
(D) Many modern cities are attempting to reintroduce elements into their downtown districts that were present during the time of the five-and-dimes.

38. Look at the four squares m that indicate where the following sentence could be added to the passage.
A broad range of styles was utilized, among them Italian Renaissance, Mayan Revival, and Art Deco.
Where would the sentence best fit?

39. Directions: An introductory sentence for a brief summary of the passage is provided below. Complete the summary by selecting the THREE answer choices that express the most important ideas in the passage. Some sentences do not belong in the summary because they express ideas that are not presented in the passage or are minor ideas in the passage. This question is worth 2 points.

Around the turn of the twentieth century, Samuel Henry Kress founded what turned out to be one of the most pervasive chains of five-and-dime discount stores.

Answer Choices

(A) In addition to their large selections of low-priced goods, Kress stores attracted customers with their extravagant interior and exterior designs.

(B) An architectural team created as a unit of Kress’s organization was charged with designing the spectacular buildings that housed the stores.

(C) Kress buildings became a recognizable sight along Main Streets all over America because they all appeared identical to one another.

(D) By utilizing low-cost materials and labor during the Great Depression, Kress was able to greatly expand his business, eventually maintaining hundreds of stores nationwide.

(E) The architect Edward Sibbert designed some of the most famous Kress structures and was best known for his work on the impressive New York City store.

(F) The Kress five-and-dimes finally shut down in 1980, but the impressive architecture of their buildings has endured and is still an important feature of many American cities.

Reading Passage 1  Reading Passive 2   Answer Keys & Explanation Passage 3