Like the dollar stores, even as a kid, my mother and I were never thrilled with the five and dime stores back in the 1960's Maybe it was the quality of items, I don't know but few errands took place at stores such as Woolworth's or even Ben Franklin unless it was to sit behind a large five and dime lunch counter for a chocolate shake or soda. With the exception of WT Grants were the selection was larger and Kresges were I worked as a waitress at the lunch counter...believe it or not.....my first summer college job. I was no waitress because I carried more food on my uniform than anywhere else and was always tripping. Pretty much how I am today.
However, during the early 1960's on the south side of Chicago in Jeffrey Manor, it was a field trip for my Mom, my best friend and her Mom to do some shopping, possibly at Hillmans that was located in the same strip mall and then run to Richards five and dime next door. In the early 60's, Hillman's operated 14 supermarkets throughout Chicago and the suburbs.The stores were known for their brightly lit and colorful interior with the best quality of meat and bakery goods. After shopping, our final trip was to the new Baskin Robbins, or was then 31 flavors, also in the same mall.
Parents sought greeting cards of all types. But if it was a holiday or birthday, Richards was the best place to buy very reasonable party decorations that included tableware, drink ware, gift wrap and, of course, balloons. I also remember party favors such as neat pinwheels, blowouts in many colors, and pinatas. It was fun to pick out Halloween costume accessories here that may include a bendable mustache and a stethoscope if you were dressing up as a doctor or a beaded necklace and matching bracelet.
But I could remember the toys, some placed in bins that were great stocking stuffers or just a treat for the day. One bin was filled with all different kinds of miniature battle force soldiers, while another contained a classic thoroughbred collection. There were puzzles galore some handheld and card games that included Crazy 8, Old Maid, Go Fish and a large variety of Bicycle Playing Cards as well as double cards sets with flowers trimmed in gold and silver. Mini cards were available and cool magic tricks for kids. Blowing bubbles were in stock. You could even purchase plastic pails and shovels for the beach in all different children sizes.
And, of course, I could go on and on and on and on!
Just a few days ago, I was thinking about Richards and decided to do some research. No more Richards in the Midwest but I found a Richards Variety Store in Atlanta Georgia....it couldn't be! It said the best variety of greeting cards, toys, novelties and more since the 1950s. What? So I continued on through the massive collection of classic items. I just had chills going through the pages, my memories becoming brighter and stronger.
Then, still researching, I discovered an article that talks about this store and the owner Richard Klenberg who is 62, almost my age, and has been in the Richards Variety Store in Buckhead for most of his life. According to AJC, his Uncle Richard Garber and his Dad Max purchased a trio of failing dime stores in 1952. They changed the name to Richards. Most of the stores were closed by the early 1970's with the exceptions of the one in Peachtree Battle and now his son, also a Richard like his Uncle, has maintained the store and has opened a second one.
Please check out Richards Variety Store website and you can actually order items online. Maybe the toys, games, arts and crafts that made you smile will change the life of someone else like your grandchildren in celebrating their upcoming birthdays or holidays. Maybe buy a small reminder of a tiny bank you had to save your allowance. Or how about something totally unrelated as an adult novelty, such as, believe it or not, Trumps small hand soap, a great addition to your crazy novelty items.
Thank you Richards for keeping my childhood in beautiful focus!
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