Saturday, July 5, 2014

And A Happy 5th of July To You!

Hoping everyone is having a wonderful July 4th weekend. Another anniversary occurs this weekend, albeit one far less significant – today is the 7th anniversary of Pleasant Family Shopping, which began on July 5, 2007.

Over those seven years, 315 posts have appeared (a too-small percentage of them appearing in 2013 and 2014 – a trend I hope to reverse), and as always, your comments have contributed immensely.

So I decided to put together a list of the Top 10 percent of posts, as gauged by the amount of comment activity. A “Greatest Hits” post, if you will. This leaves out a few stalwarts like Safeway, Zayre and Publix that were covered earlier in the site’s run, but nothing’s perfect.

My thanks (and amazement) to those who have stuck with PFS for years now - from the bottom of my heart. And to those who have joined us more recently, welcome, and many thanks to you as well!


1. Suburban Shopping in the 70’s – If this had been a real shopping trip, it would have taken three days. Local and national retail chain stores from two neighboring west suburbs of Chicago.

2. Holiday Inn – The World’s Innkeeper – Pioneer of “Family Travel Fun!”, with signs that remain seared in our collective memories.

3. You’re the Topps, Baby! – Well-remembered discount chain from the Eastern and Midwestern regions.

4. A Tale of Two Guys – “Those two b***ards from Harrison, NJ”, and the discount chain they started, which eventually spanned two coasts.

5. The Golden Age of Gas Stations – A tribute to the bygone era of service stations through a look at some 30-odd famous brand names, some still here, many now gone.  Yes, I forgot Hess, Crown and numerous others. Next time!

6. The Original Big K – Southern discounter, later acquired by Wal-Mart. I’ve heard from more former employees of Big K than any other chain except Korvette, and virtually all recounted their years there with fondness.

7. Save at Venture, Save with Style – Discounter from the Midwest (and Texas!) that was stylish indeed. They got stripes!

8. E.J. Korvette and the Dawn of Discounting – About the chain that started it all, and its visionary founder, Eugene Ferkauf. My favorite discounter of all time.

9. Requiem for Randhurst – My personal tribute to Randhurst, triangular architectural masterpiece and pioneering Chicago-area mall. To my childhood eyes, ‘twas a wonderland.

10. The First Target Store Opens, 1962 – The birth of a legend.

11. Randhurst is 50! – Exquisite early promotional photos from Randhurst.

12. The Opening of Dixie Square Mall, 1966 – Some history of the most famous “dead mall” of all, and photos from when it was vibrantly alive.  

13. When It Was Penneys – The origin of the famed “Funky P” logo.

14. It’s the Montgomery, Not the Ward – The last days of the legendary Montgomery Ward, where I got my little red wagon, among other things.

15. The First Woolco Stores – The early years of F.W. Woolworth Company’s discount store division. Zig-zag awnings at their finest.

16. One Small Step for Woolco – Woolco on the move in the late 1960’s.

17. The General Cinema Experience – Remembering everyone’s favorite mall and shopping center-based theatres. Who could forget that catchy “Feature Presentation” theme?

18. G.C. Murphy – Dime Store Pioneer – A look at one of the great “5 and 10” chains, who later brought “Murphy’s Mart” into the world, then succumbed to Murphy’s Law, unfortunately.

19. The Kroger Superstores! – The apex of 1970’s supermarket style. Let’s Go Krogering!

20. Kmart – Eat Here and Get Gas! – Kmart branches out into auto service and fast food, late 1960’s.

21.  The Dynamic Dominick’s – Remembering a Chicago supermarket institution on the eve of its closing, though a look at one of their most striking stores. Still hard to believe they’re gone.

22. The Beat Goes On at Dillard’s – A shameless attempt on my part to hitch this site to a celebrity bandwagon, and a capsule early history of Dillard’s.

23. A Real Early American A&P - A Colonial-style A&P grocery store, before Colonialism was in fashion.

24. A Farewell to Mr. Paperback – A reflection on the closing of a favorite store, written by my friend Kendra Bird. Substitute your own most-missed store for “Mr. Paperback” and your local mall-that’s-seen-better-days for Airport Mall, and it will very likely hit home.

25. Kmart - That 70's Store – Because it most certainly was “that 70’s store”. TYFSAK!

26. A Look Through Penney’s Window – And a rather wistful one, at that. Time waits for no one. (Hold on, did I just name-check a Rolling Stones song?)

27. The Art and History of Cermak Plaza – Berwyn, Illinois’ landmark shopping center, built in the late 50’s and transformed into a legend with the addition of some controversial modern art sculptures in the 1980’s .The sculptures are gone, but the legend remains.

28. A Primer on A&P Centennials.  – Does it get more American than A&P? Or more “Early American”, to be specific?

29. The First Kmart Opens, 1962 – Celebrating 50 years of Kmart. Not taking bets on a second 50 years, unfortunately.

30. Wards in Huntington Beach, 1966 – A classic Montgomery Ward store that stood for a very long time after it closed, finally being torn down sometime after this post was written.

31. Shopping in Los Angeles in the 1950’s – A day in postwar shopping paradise. The only thing missing was a stop at Van de Kamp’s.

31.5. Ralphs Granada Hills Reloaded, 1965 - An incredibly awesome 1960 supermarket made even awesomer by a 1965 remodeling. Cooler than your grocery store. Cooler than mine.

Note: the photo above is a Container Corporation of America (Marcor) publicity shot, circa 1969.