Thursday, September 20, 2012

J & R Variety---One of the Best (and Last) Genuine Dime Stores in the Chicago Area

By Joan Hadac
Editor and Publisher
Southwest Chicago Post

Just about all of us over age 40 can recall with a smile the dime stores of our youth---the places where we bought trinkets, toys, baseball cards, bubble gum and candy, kites and string, hula hoops, rubber balls and so much more.

Sadly, the vast majority of those old dime stores are long gone---from the thousands of independents to the chains like Woolworth, McCrory, W.T. Grant, V & S Variety and so forth.

Fortunately, the Southwest Side is home to one of the last genuine dime stores anywhere.

So if you're looking for that old-time dime store experience---complete with the wonderfully unique sounds of creaky wooden floors, drive over to J & R Variety, 6318 South Pulaski (a half block south of The Indian).

Plenty of parking, both in the lot and on the street in front.

Step inside J & R, and you'll wonder if you stepped back to 1972 or 1962 or even 1952. A diverse assortment of basic merchandise (literally thousands of items large and small); yet organized sensibly---yesteryear shelving and retail structure (looks almost like a mini-department store, as dime stores often did).

It's impossible to walk in this place and not smile in aisle after aisle as you discover things you thought existed only in your memory---yet at the same time, it's nearly impossible to walk out without buying a number of fun and useful things---more than you thought you would.

So head on over there---and bring your kids or grandkids, to give them a fun taste of yesteryear. And say hello to longtime owner Mike Gehant and thank him for owning and operating one of the unique small businesses that make the Southwest Side one of the best parts of Chicago.

And check them out on Facebook.

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  1. I am definitely going to J&R this weekend. Thanks for posting this.

  2. There was a for sale sign out front for the longest time. Did the owner change his mind?

  3. I would stop at J&R after school. I'd leave St. Rita HS (it was still on 63rd St. then), take the 63rd St. Bus to Pulaski, and before walking home to 59th Street, I stop at J&R to see what was new. There was always something that I wanted to buy. Sometimes, if I had the money, I'd make the purchase. Other times, I have to wait a while till I had more money. I haven't been in J&R since the 70s. I din't even know it was still open. I am sorry to see it going away. Another bit of history leaving the area. Too bad I live in GA or I'd find a way to stop in before they close. Good luck for your future.