End of an era for Southwest Side variety store

SHARE End of an era for Southwest Side variety store

It should really come as no surprise that J&R Variety Store, regarded by its owner as the last of the old “five and dimes” in Chicago, is going out of business after 58 years at 63rd and Pulaski.

The surprise is that J&R has survived this long, outlasting all the Woolworths, Kresges and Ben Franklins — the other neighborhood-based, little-box stores that long ago made way for the big ones.

The explanation could be in the nature of the West Lawn neighborhood where J&R is located, one of the last in the city to turn over to a new wave of residents.

Or maybe it is just the nature of the owner, Mike Gehant, who will turn 52 on Friday and began sweeping the floors for his father, Kenneth, then the store’s manager, after school in the second grade in between doing homework in the basement.

“I’ve been here all my life,” said Gehant, who has been working at J&R full time for the last 28 years.

“Some guys collect stamps. Some guys collect Matchbox cars. This was my hobby. It’s a joy,” he said.


The Latest
David C. Abarca, 22, pointed a fully automatic pistol with a laser sight at the officer on the inbound lanes near Ashland Avenue and gunfire was exchanged, according to a police report.
Beyond his books, the handsome, white-haired McCullough may have had the most recognizable presence of any historian, his fatherly baritone known to fans of PBS’s “The American Experience” and Ken Burns’ epic “Civil War” documentary
Minaj, who has won five MTV trophies for such hits as “Anaconda,” “Chun-Li” and “Hot Girl Summer,” will get the award and perform at the ceremony on Aug. 28.
That victory for privacy, freedom and bodily autonomy was driven by huge voter turnout and the organizers who worked to achieve it.
Her car jumped a curb shortly after midnight in the 2800 block of North Ashland Avenue, police said.