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Shopper's Fair was one of the first to go after began. Atlantic and Spartan-Atlantic folded shortly afterward. So did White Front and their Topps division. And on it went through the decade. With a handful of exceptions, it got to the point where only the hardiest chains were able to continue and grow.

All of them got their start in So before they're completely forgotten, here is a look back at a few of the great old discount department stores of days gone by. Des Moines, Iowa got one about the same time--but with a far-less appealing parking lot sign. There was a puppet show on at the time that was fairly popular in the midwest.

Well, the show was so popular with kids that they actually had the puppet do the news at night. Instead of an anchorman , they'd have this puppet come on and "read" the weather and hard news. I kid you not. That went on into the 70's.

Anyway, one night the puppet made an appearance in the parking lot of Shopper's Fair. The crowd was enormous as we watched the puppets cavort from this makeshift wall high up in the air well, i guess everything's high to a 2 or 3 year old. I also remember having my first picture taken in a little hut with Santa Claus that was hastily constructed in front of Shopper's Fair. What 's exciting for me is that i've been back to South Bend looking for the store , only to find that it had been destroyed.

YOURS was the first picture i've seen of it in 40 years. AND it was taken at a time when one of those cars in the picture, could very well have been my family's! My address is Cybrsnoop1 aol. And thanks again Dave, for sharing such a great website with the world. Note the adorable Cheerful Tearful doll by Mattel and the elaborate-looking Polaroid camera on opposite sides at the bottom.

Adobe Photodeluxe enhancement gives these early '80s photos of the attractive building on Merle Hay Road in Des Moines a look back at its original heyday as an Ardan catalog showroom store. A bit of trivia: I only knew Ardan as a Des Moines chain as a kid, but they had locations in other cities and states as well. They started in D. Special Thanks to Marty Kuhn for generously loaning me this, the Christmas catalog and the BH cover shown below Several years after the Merle Hay store opened, the Ardan name did a very unusual and bizarre disappearing-and-reappearing act in that location.

In the late '60s I think , the Kansas City-based Bellas Hess chain bought the place and the name became Bellas Hess--Ardan Division, with the Ardan reference in tiny lettering on the sign and the building. Then in , a new catalog showroom opened in a separate addition to the left side of the building. It was called Prestige, but the layout, logo lettering and catalog design made it seem like Ardan was trying to sneak back in through the back door.

The suspicion was fully realized a year or so later when the showroom's name was altered to read "Prestige Is Ardan". About the same time, Bellas Hess was closing all their units including the Des Moines store. In , some local enterprenuers made a valiant attempt to establish a locally-owned discount store in the old BH location, called Plaza Family Savings Center, but it failed after a short time.

Then it was announced that the camera, sporting goods and toy departments which had been associated with Ardan and the two subsequent replacements would be spun-off into separate stores on the opposite side of the street--in a former Topps building--and the Minnesota-based Goldfine's chain would move into the building vacated by PFSC come During all this confusion, Prestige Is Ardan became simply Ardan again.

Goldfine's later went belly-up, and near the end of the decade, K Mart took over the building Today there's not even a discount store in that building, probably because too many people thought all those failures meant none would work in that area. Target should have opened a store there and proved them wrong today, there is a Target store on Merle Hay Road--as an anchor of Merle Hay Mall. As for Ardan, they closed all their showrooms in Click on this Bellas Hess Ardan cover to go to a page featuring a supersize version of the department collage shown above, plus two shots of vintage TVs they used to sell thanks again, Marty!

This Sam's Bargain Town on Truman Road in Kansas City was perhaps the oldest of four such stores located around the area as far back as the mid-'50s. More Sam's signage from the same location on Truman Road. Note the shadow-obscured sign on the corner of the building in the background with the store's name on it. Here's another Sam's K. Scroll to the top of this page to see a nighttime shot of the sign. Here's another sign that accompanied the Raytown unit, featuring a wonderfully-nostalgic trademark of yesteryear's discount stores: A similar type of display was used by the old Spartan-Atlantic chain, which also had a couple of Kansas City stores.

Click on this thumbnail to check out a Christmas newspaper ad for Sam's: Zayre One of the first-generation Zayre stores was this one in a Bangor, Maine shopping plaza, seen close-up underneath. Next to it is a shot of a similar store missing its "E", courtesy of Shaun Qualdieri thanks. Pictured at bottom is a later-built Zayre in Dubuque, Iowa.

Here is yet another vintage Zayre, complete with its Auto Center, courtesy of Brett thanks. Zayre was one of the first major discount chains, having opened their first location around , same as Sam's above.

Having lived in the midwest all my life, I was unfamiliar with Zayre, which was pretty big in the east and the New England states. They did have one Iowa location, in Dubuque, which I visited in When they folded, many locations were replaced by Ames Discount Stores, which began as a chain in and has now closed all remaining units after a troubled period of trying to stay alive as the fourth-largest discount chain behind K Mart.

A Chicago-area Turn-Style, circa the late s. This was the discount department store chain owned by Osco Drug. Courtesy of Mark Garast. Kuhn's-Big K not to be confused with the current Big K-Mart trend used to be dominant in the Southeast with stores. Then came their last big sale in This Miracle Mart store in Peoria, Illinois--which tends to look more like an airplane hangar--was already closed and boarded up by the time I paid my first visit to the city back in Louis, Missouri GEM store opened in Louis store opened two years later.

Acknowlegement for above picture coming soon. In at the age of 12, I drew this "artist's rendering" of the GEM membership department store in the Kansas City area.

The sign toward the center reads, "GEM has filled over 12 million prescriptions It was a members-only discount department store, open exclusively to active or retired members of the armed forces, as well as those who worked for the government or under government contract. GEM was conceived as a means of "raising the living standard" of families living on a fixed income, and their prices were noticably lower that those at other discount stores.

My father had one of their membership cards, and we all went to the Kansas City location together on an occasional weekend. While on a vacation that same year, we passed another such store in another state, called GEX. The signage used for GEM was as huge as the stores themselves. I'll never forget those letters on the K. As a descendant of a member of the armed forces, I might have been able to get into the Omaha, Nebraska location were it still around today.

Unfortunately, the chain was a victim of the discount store economic shakeout. Wow, GEM even sold cars! Talk about one-stop shopping International Super Stores opened a couple of units in Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska, similar to this one, in Two years later, they became Treasure City stores see below. Treasure City in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Omaha had one of these as well; each had previously been an International Super Store. Katz Drug Stores Although this striking Katz store in Roeland Park, Kansas opened long before the s began, I vividly remember paying many more visits to this unit than any other, as it was the closest one to us.

Many features distinguish it from the others that were around: Well, actually, I received a message some time ago that the sign was not really perched up there by one corner.

Rather, it was a short distance away from the store on pylons; it appears where it does here simply to get it in the same shot as the store Radio stations in Kansas City, Missouri used to hum with that jingle. Small wonder, for Kansas City was the home of Katz. But they also had a few locations in St. Joseph, Missouri and Des Moines, Iowa. While they weren't exactly a discount department store chain, they were considerably bigger than the average neighborhood drug store.

That's the one pictured just above this paragraph, and I urge those readers concerned to click on it for an urgent message!

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