Here are a few more shots from 1962 -65, near the end of Korvette’s golden years. In 1963 Korvette planted its flag for the first time outside of the East Coast market, opening four stores in Chicagoland. The first two, located in Oak Lawn at 87th and Cicero and in Elmhurst at Route 83 (Elmhurst Rd) and St. Charles Rd opened on April 29. Two more stores would open before the end of the year, in the south suburb of Matteson at Crawford and 111th street and in Morton Grove at the intersection of Waukegan Rd and Dempster Street. Each of these stores were built as “Korvette Cities” with a two-story main store, an adjoining Korvette supermarket, furniture store/carpet center, and an auto center at the edge of the parking lot.
The fifth and last Chicago area Korvette is the only one I remember from personal experience. Opening in November 1965, over two years later than the other Chicago locations, this store was located at the corner of Harlem Avenue and Cermak Road in North Riverside, across the street from Berwyn’s Cermak Plaza, a circa-1956 strip mall which would later become an unlikely pop-culture icon with the addition of some, uh, "recycled" art works and a cameo appearance in the movie “Wayne’s World”. On the opposite side of the Korvette store would be the future location of North Riverside Park Mall, which opened around 1974. The originally-intended supermarket for this last Chicago location opened up as a Jewel Food Store instead (they basically closed their Cermak Plaza location and moved across the street), since earlier in the year Korvette sold off its grocery business in Chicago, with three locations going to Dominick’s.
We moved to the West Suburbs in the mid-70’s, and I vividly remember being mesmerized by the funky blue-and-white script Korvette logo on the face of the buildings and on the sign tower. Even though the store was only ten years old at the time, it looked positively ancient in the middle of that Helvetica decade, the 1970’s. As young as I was then, I still tried to imagine what the place would have looked like brand-new and full of 1960’s shoppers. My family didn’t shop there often, due to the virtually new mall right next door and the fact that Korvette was in steep decline and the store really showed it. The store became a Kmart after Korvette's demise, and has been a Kohl's for many years now.
The photos above include a 1965 exterior view of the Douglaston, Long Island, NY store (which opened a month after the North Riverside store discussed above), and various interior shots dating from 1962 and 1965. The Douglaston Korvette store was the home of a fine art gallery in the 1960's which was a pet project of founder Eugene Ferkauf. The health and beauty section shows a sign for “Kor-Val”, Korvette’s house brand for shaving cream, shampoo and the like, and the second photo shows a Korvette camera department with a great selection of telescopes – the chandelier peeking at the top of the photo would indicate that this was from the flagship 575 Fifth Avenue location, the subject of the previous post.
One type of photo I would love to be able to show is of Korvette’s legendary record department. The company was one of the very largest record dealers in the country, and it was truly one of Korvette’s main and most fondly remembered calling cards. It’s a safe bet that a great many Beatles, Dylan and Simon and Garfunkel albums flew through those front doors shown in the first picture. To say nothing of The Four Tops, The Mamas and the Papas, Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass…