My Memories of Gatelys Peoples Store in Roseland.

Thank you, everyone, for discovering and visiting my new blog, Vanished Chicagoland Stories. I will start by writing my first story about my memories of Gatelys Peoples Store. Once located at 11201 S Michigan Ave in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. My family and I moved from South Shore to Roseland in June of 1969, 50 years ago this month. My father owned the property at 11135 S Michigan Ave and, it was a shoe store called Schiff Shoes since 1965. Our apartment was right above it. My mother wasn’t happy living there. She wanted a house with a backyard and a garden. My father explained to my mother that we are staying here temporarily for a few years. Truthfully, I was glad we stayed there because we wouldn’t have discovered Gatleys.

I remembered the front and revolving doors as we entered inside. Most of the departments that I remember were the jewelry section. There was a revolving Timex display. It lit up as it was turning, displaying the beautiful watches. I bought my very first one there. The next thing was when we bought school uniforms, located on the 1st floor. I also remembered the tobacco section next to the staircase. I remembered the cafeteria and the enormous book selection there next to it. The second floor had women’s clothing and furniture and, I saw Santa Claus there for the first time. I afraid of him, but he was very nice to me. There is a photo somewhere in my house with Santa Claus, my brothers and me.  I looked very nervous in that photo. The third floor had appliances and TV sets. Some of the colors TV ones like Zenith, Motorola, and Admiral were beautiful. I don’t know what was on the fourth floor or there was a fifth floor. Someone who remembered can tell me.

Next was the basement. The basement had a grocery store. My mother told me most of the items there were expensive, but also shopped at the A&P at W 112th St. The National Foods Store at Roseland Plaza was at 115th St & Michigan, where DeKoven Drug Store was there too. The basement at Gatleys had a toy department which I loved very much. It had the Tonka toys on display. There was a popcorn machine there too and, it smelled so good. A lot of people on Facebook remembered the donut machine. The donuts were on a conveyor belt, rolling down like it was on a roller coaster and, they would drop in the oil bins were there being cooked and fried as the customers, and I was observing them. It was fascinating to watch and, the donuts were fresh and delicious.

We moved out of Roseland in September 1974 and moved to Ashburn on the southwest side near Ford City Shopping Center. Gatelys closed in 1980, and the neighborhood changed drastically over the years. There was another store in Tinley Park that opened in the mid-1970s and stayed opened until 1994. The building in Roseland is still there and smaller shops opened in recent years. The building had a fire on June 7, 2019. The Gatelys sign has been salvaged and stored in a safe place. The store is gone now, and few years before that, the parking garage too. Who knows what will happen to the property, and is still a vacant lot. People from Roseland and the South Side miss that store tremendously. Whether they took the 34 Michigan streetcar or bus, the South Suburban Safeway Bus Lines, which traveled you to downtown Chicago very conveniently, or if you drove there and parked at the garage in the back of the store, that place was unique at the time. I doubt we will get another department store like that one anymore. We all miss it very much. Well, that the end of my first story. I hope you will like it and please spread the word about my new blog. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.

A look back At Gatelys Peoples Store in Roseland. Listen to the background music. It consists of the department store paging bells, telephones ringing and people and customers talking.
Gatelys Peoples Store was once located at 11201 S. Michigan Ave in the Roseland neighborhood of Chicago. A real jewel on the South Side. Memories included but not mentioned in the article were visiting Santa Claus, Mr. Gately, the owner walking around the store, the cafeteria, the donut machine, toy department, grocery store, and so on and so on. What a place!

15 thoughts on “My Memories of Gatelys Peoples Store in Roseland.

  1. Thanks for the twitter account and now blog that relives the vanished Chicago. Please in the future include stories in your blog about South Shore in the 60’s. One notable fact I share with people is that Michelle Obama grew up in South Shote. Her brother attended My Carmel . Also she and and Obama had their wedding reception at the ‘Club’

  2. Thanks for this blog! I was born & raised in Western Springs so I was a 100% suburban girl. My aunt & uncle lived off of Sheridan Dr: not remembering the neighborhood name but I think it curved and ended there??? Anyway, I was fascinated to visit them in the city! It was such a different world to me!! Please keep your memories & stories coming! I’m still fascinated by the city!

    1. Beautiful memories of a great store and neighborhood staple. Roseland was such a nice shopping strip were you could everything you needed ten minutes away. I’m back in the area now and when I drive down Michigan street now it’s so depressing. All the dilapidated buildings vacant lots and the great gately building boarded up ..so depressing. My hope is somebody or something could be done to make this area vibrant and enjoyable again…but it’s just a beautiful dream..

  3. One thing I remember so well about Gately’s Peoples Store was the machine on the second floor that would take your money or check & suck it through to someone who would send back your change. I also loved the middle aisle on the first floor as it almost always had great bargains in women’s clothing. My family & I lived on 115th Street between Wallace & Lowe from 1954 to 1972. I loved when my mom & I would take the bus on 115th Street to get to Gately’s. So many great shops on “The Ave”!

    1. I remember Gately’s Peoples Store well. We lived at 142nd and Wallace, and my mom worked there for a few years. My best friend and I used to take the bus to Roseland every month on a Saturday, and carefully spend the $5.00 or $10.00 we were given for our shopping trip. That middle aisle at Gately’s was always a draw for us. I also remember the Three Sisters Store a couple stores down from Gately’s, and, of course, the always deliciously smelling carmel corn shop right there at the bus stop. We couldn’t go home without getting some. The thought of Roseland, and Gately’s brings back some wonderful memories for me. Thanks for this blog, and for all the comments!

  4. Gately’s used a pneumatic tube system for sending money and papers to & from the offices. It made a cool wooshing sound as the trap was opened, and a plop as the container arrived. They also used a bell system to page the managers and alert security. Ding ding, ding ding ding. Ding, ding ding, etc. Each pattern meant something. The little snack shop next to the donut machine on the lower level was heaven. Great burgers and Green River soda. Full restaurant on the main floor. Record and book departments nearby. Hardware and a great bakery on lower level. Bargain tables scattered around the main floor. Office supplies and shoe departments on main floor.

  5. My father grew up in Pullman, 106th and Champlain. Every 2nd Sunday we would visit my Grandmother there for dinner. She always had some delicious dessert from Gately’s I remember watching the pneumatic tubes racing over the ceiling.. My cousin went to St Willbord School. What memories! Thank you.

  6. Thanks for the memory of Gately’s. My family moved to Roseland (102nd & Michigan) in 1970! We were the first Black family on the block (that changed quickly). I remember the candy section on the lower level of Gately’s where my grandmother bought candy corn and spanish peanuts as a special treat! We shopped for clothes there as well. I was heartbroken when it closed….felt like i was loosing a friend. I also enjoyed the movie theatre in 113th & Michigan?? It’s where i saw the Exorcist and Jaws (much too young to see either!) We moved out of the area in 1982. But i still miss the area…thanks for the memories!

  7. I worked in Roseland from 1966 to 1980 101 + “Mich”. Became a war zone and had to move south. Early years were great…later years were an “education”,for sure.

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