Kars Five-and-Ten Store

I grew up near Montrose and Austin in the 1950s. The neighborhood was residential. We did most of our shopping at Six Corners—Milwaukee, Irving Park, and Cicero—about two miles away. But if we wanted to get something within easy walking distance, we went to Kars.

Kars was located at 4347 North Central Avenue. It was a “five-and-ten” store, which meant that, once upon a time, everything in the place sold for either five or ten cents. If you want an economics lesson about inflation, consider that we now have “dollar” stores.

Kars exterior

By the 1950s, most of the stuff in Kars was already priced above ten cents. I can’t remember everything they sold. Mostly they had odds-and-ends, like greeting cards, shoe polish, detergent, handkerchiefs, paint, and so on. They also sold replacement tubes for your TV set, and had a little machine where you could test them out.

The store was located on the first floor of a two-story building. Some people claimed that Mr. and Mrs. Kars lived on the second floor. Or maybe that second floor was just for storage.

Kars interior

Though Mr. Kars was usually around, his wife was the face of the store. She was an elegant lady who spoke with an undeterminable Eastern European accent. When Mrs. Kars was gone for a few weeks one summer, rumor had it that she’d gone on a vacation to Russia, which made her even more exotic for the Portage Park neighborhood.

Kars closed down in the mid-1970s. There’s a Walgreen’s on the site now.



4 Responses to “Kars Five-and-Ten Store”

  1. 1 Alan August 9, 2016 at 6:13 pm

    I can’t believe there are pictures of Kars. Of course, being the Internet…everything is on the Internet.

    I was just watching an old TV show where a guy had his pants pulled up almost to his chest and it reminded me of Mr. Kar. We used to go to Kars to buy rubber baseballs that we would use to play fast-pitch at the Prussing School yard.

    One of those memories of growing up in Chicago’s NW side.

    Thanks for the memories…

    • 2 J.R. Schmidt August 10, 2016 at 5:03 am

      I’m happy to share a couple of pictures of Kars. Now somebody needs to send me some pictures of Garden Bowl.

  2. 4 Debbie gersch September 24, 2016 at 2:22 am

    These pictures are great!! I was just remembering about Kars, and decided to see if I could possibly find a picture- couldn’t believe it when I saw these. Thanks so much. I spent so much time there !!!

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