Baby Boomers Remember: Shopping in Old La Grange
From dime stores to department stores, LaGrange had it all when it came to shopping for the whole family! Did we leave out any of your favorites?
On Easter Sunday my family gathered for brunch, and true to form, we shared some lively conversation. As usual, we talked mostly about food. Our family is known for discussions that can go on for hours simply about such things as, “The lemon squares have an unusual taste today. Did you use a new spice or something in the recipe? What is that weird flavor?” Then, after each of the 12 people at the table gave their individual opinions, the flavor was ultimately identified. It was onion. Crazy but true.
Thankfully, my brother finally changed the subject, and we began talking about fond memories of shopping in “Old La Grange.” Dime stores like Kresge’s and clothing stores like Dad and Lad came to mind, and of course, debate involving specific locations ensued. Was Jack’s in the Village Market, or further down on La Grange Road? What about Schoen McAlister’s? For sure that was on La Grange Road, probably where Palmer’s is now. No, it was where Horton’s is now and it was a two story department store, to be exact. Oh, and remember Mr. Floyd’s? It was a clothing store for men and boys, but girls liked to buy their hip-hugger bell-bottom jeans in the basement, which was called the Slack Shack.
But, whatever happened to the queen of them all: Chas. A. Stevens? Now, that was a store worth remembering.
My friends and I loved that store [so did my mother and her friends]. Seemed Steven’s always came through when I was in a pinch. A high school dance? They would inevitably have the perfect dress. A new pair of shoes for Easter? Great selection and a beautiful shoe salon. Gift for Mom’s birthday? You could find a bottle of a favorite perfume at an affordable price. It was a store beyond compare and if it were still here in La Grange today, Oakbrook would see lots less traffic, that’s for sure.
So, what happened?
According to Wikipedia, this is the story:
“Chas A. Stevens was a Chicago department store. It started in 1886 as a catalog business and eventually grew to 29 locations in the Chicago metropolitan area. In 1988, the chain filed for bankruptcy and liquidated. Its flagship State Street store was the hub of fashion in the forties, fifties and sixties in Chicago. It featured six floors of women's clothing only. The top floor housed a beauty salon called The Powder Box, which employed more than 50 operators and was famous for catering to visiting celebrities, etc. The display windows on the main floor were often chosen as the best in the city, and received many awards.”
How sad. And yet how wonderful that we had our beloved Steven’s right here in La Grange, if only for a little while.