Kansas April 20, 2018
7 Stores That Anyone Who Grew Up In Kansas Will Undoubtedly Remember
It’s easy to remember what you had for dinner last night, or the last place you shopped, but do you remember things from your childhood? Our childhood memories are full of things we did with our families. Do you remember these old stores in Kansas that are mostly not around anymore? With one exception, of course. Come reminisce with us.
1. Ben Franklin
Ben Franklin is a chain made of five and dime stores and arts and crafts stores that are mostly found in small towns. It’s one of the first retail franchises, starting in 1927. Their motto, and their name, are both from Benjamin Franklin himself, who said, "A penny saved is a penny earned." It started in 1877 as Butler Brothers, and began closing its own stores due to bankruptcy in 1996-97. However, it seems a few of them are still lurking around the U.S. today.
Otasco, also known as the Oklahoma tire and Supply Company, was established in 1918 by Jewish Lithuanian brothers that opened the first store in Okmulgee. Headquarters was moved to Tulsa in 1925 and business was booming. There were 455 stores across 12 states in 1968, but sadly it has died out, making room for more popular chains along the way.
3. Osco Drug
Osco Drug and Sav-on Drugs were sister chains much like Walgreens is today. The first store was opened in 1915 in Minnesota as Pay-Less, but while opening a second location in Iowa, they discovered "Payless" was already taken. So, they changed the name to "Self-Service Drug Inc" which became Owners Service Company (Osco) in 1942. I remember going to Osco as a child, but it didn’t last for long during my lifetime. After a merger by Jewel in 1961, Jewel-Osco stores were opened, and plenty of other name combinations popped up in the Midwest. CVS eventually purchased the 700 standalone Osco and Sav-on stores, and they were rebranded as CVS by 2007.
John S. Dillon opened a store in Sterling, Kansas, and realized how he wanted to run his business soon after. In 1913, he opened Dillon Cash Store in Hutchinson, starting a new concept called "cash and carry" where the store wouldn’t offer credit or delivery services, when others would. After a few decades, John’s son expanded the chain to Wichita in 1957. They later joined the Kroger company in 1983, and continue to serve across the Midwest as Dillons stores new and old.
In 1936, Herbert Gibson and his wife opened Gibson Products Co, a novelty wholesale store in Texas. By the 50s, he started opening discount stores, and by 1968, there were 434 stores altogether. The headquarters was moved to Dodge City, Kansas some time before 1999, but Gibson’s announced the closing of the 17 remaining stores in 2002. Two stores are left in Texas, as far as I’ve heard.
Safeway stores have many names, and have popped up in many regions of America throughout the years. Some other names of chains under the Safeway umbrella are Skaggs, Piggly Wiggly, Sun Grocery, Bird Grocery, and Thriftway. It has since expanded to international stores, with locations in Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and a few others.
TG&Y, another five and dime chain, started out in 1935 during the Great Depression, and has been called many names by customers, including Turtles, Girdles, and Yoyos. However, funny names aside, TG&Y was named after its founders – Tomlinson, Gosselin, and Young. It was founded in Oklahoma City, but quickly spread to other states, and eventually had nearly 1000 stores at its peak. Sadly, like many other five and dime stores, the owner filed bankruptcy and started closing stores in 2001. This video by YouTuber
really captures the magic of those old commercials.
If this wave of nostalgia has inspired you to get out there and explore, then don’t forget to check out
this artist’s fun twist on Stonehenge.