The mid/late-1970’s proved to be the Waterloo of a number of discount retail chains with a significant presence in Chicago. The late George Lazarus, longtime business writer for the Chicago Tribune, listed the recent casualties in a 1978 editorial – Topps (Interstate Stores), Korvettes, W.T. Grant and Robert Hall Village. In short order, Jewel-owned Turn-Style would be added to the list.
Turn-Style’s profitable run at the end of the sixties and the dawn of the seventies brought about an acceleration, however mild, of the Family Center program, where the chain grew from a couple of area stores to thirteen by 1976. The last Chicago Turn-Style stores were opened in conjunction with a new Jewel concept – the Jewel Grand Bazaar, a larger (60,000-plus square feet) supermarket format that enjoyed great success in its early years. Loosely based on the European “hypermarkets”, these stores combined the feel of an open air market with huge bulk displays of product. Jewel, widely credited with marketing the country’s first “generic” supermarket product line (in 1977), used the Grand Bazaar stores for its launch. Three Grand Bazaar locations that adjoined some of the final Turn-Style stores were located at 54th Street and Pulaski Road, 87th Street and the Dan Ryan Expressway, and at Grand and Kostner Avenues. In 1974, Turn-Style’s president, Bill Lewis, was reassigned by Jewel to head up a new group, charged with developing a "real" hypermarket for Jewel. It was to include a discount department store, pharmacy and food store under one (very large -200,000 sq. ft.) roof, in what could have been a more upscale precursor to today’s Wal-Mart Supercenters. Sadly, this never materialized.
Turn-Style, which as Lazarus put it, “(had) never been a winner for Jewel” at least held its own into the mid-70’s, but things went downhill quickly from there. In 1975, Turn-Style lost its independent division status and was placed under the Osco group, along with the very successful Osco Drug stores and Jewel’s hapless, soon to be jettisoned Republic Lumber stores.
In 1978, there were 24 Zayre stores and 38 Kmart (who had just snapped up two Korvettes and two Robert Hall Village locations) stores in operation in the greater Chicago area, huge footprints (and a correspondingly huge advertising advantage) in contrast with Turn-Style, which was standing still after all those years with only 13 area units, incomplete market coverage and far less than ideal advertising utilization.
When May Department Stores, Inc., with its growing Venture stores division came calling, Jewel was receptive. On March 7, 1978 it was announced that Jewel would sell 22 Turn-Styles to May for conversion into Venture stores, including locations in Illinois, Michigan, Iowa, Wisconsin and Nebraska. Ten of the 13 Chicago stores were included, with the other three – Harlem-Foster, Niles and Westmont retained by Jewel for eventual conversion to larger Jewel-Osco units. The handful of Boston units went to various tenants, including Zayre.
The top photo, from 1975, shows the 87th and Dan Ryan Expressway Turn-Style/Osco Drug/Jewel Grand Bazaar location. The second photo shows the Quincy, Massachusetts location, originally opened in 1966 and remodeled ten years later, in a photo taken shortly thereafter. The photo gives a nice look at Jewel’s New England family – Star Market, Brigham’s Ice Cream Shop, Osco Drug and Turn-Style. The only name missing, for obvious reasons, is a White Hen Pantry convenience store. The last photo shows one of the last Turn-Styles, the location of which I’m not sure of.