My memories of Wieboldt’s Department Store in Chicago.

ford city 1970's wieboldts.jpg
Wieboldt’s Department Store at Ford City Shopping Center at W 76th St & S Cicero Ave in Chicago. The photo was taken in the 1970s.

Hello everyone. Today I will be writing about Wieboldt’s Department Store. The store was founded by William A Wieboldt in 1883. The first store opened in 1884 at the corner of N Milwaukee and N Paulina Aves. Other stores have opened throughout the years in Chicago and the suburbs When my mother got married in Greece and arrived in Chicago in 1962, the first store she visited was at the State Street location in downtown Chicago. When Wieboldt’s opened its downtown store at 1 North State St in 1961, it acquired The Mandel Brothers Department Store. My mother shopped at the downtown location frequently in the 1960s and 1970s until we moved to the Ashburn neighborhood in 1974. She shopped at the Ford City location for years until it closed in 1987. My vivid memories of Wieboldt’s were when I was a teenager living in Ashburn in the 1970s. The store at Ford City was very huge and had an abundance of merchandise. It had everything you need. The thing that was mostly associated with Wieboldt’s, was the S&H Green Stamps. Its redemption center was located in the lower level of the store, and it was always busy. During my high school years, I have applied for a job at the store at least three times. Never got hired. I knew a lot of kids in my class that worked and enjoyed working there. I also remembered the restaurant called The Terrace Snack Bar. I think that what it was called. My mother bought a lot of clothes there for myself and my brothers. The quality of merchandise when it came to clothes, appliances, jewelry, and other items were top-notch. My favorite thing about Wieboldt’s was the Christmas decorations. They were gorgeous, shiny, and colorful. A lot of people fondly remembered The Cinnamon Bear during the holiday season. It was a radio program that debuted in 1937 and was sponsored by several department stores on the west coast, and Wieboldt’s for many years. The Wieboldt’s downtown location had a large toy department called The Toyteria. I vaguely remembered it, and I was told it looked a big Santa’s workshop with toys scattered all over the place. In the 1970s, Wieboldt’s had approximately fifteen stores in the Chicagoland area. I assumed that it would be here forever, but I was wrong. Bad management and the stores trying to stay profitable led to its demise in 1987. I still miss it today. Wieboldt’s wasn’t like Marshall Fields in its heyday. Most of the items at Marshall Fields were expensive, and its merchandise was top quality, whereas Wieboldt’s and Carson Pirie and Scott were less expensive and its merchandise was the same as Marshall Fields. The S&H green stamp redemption centers were fondly remembered as well. I will save that for another story. If you have nice memories of Wieboldt’s, please comment here, and my social media accounts, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I look forward to reading them. Thank you. Pete Kastanes, Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.

15 thoughts on “My memories of Wieboldt’s Department Store in Chicago.

  1. My father was President of Wiebolts for 11 years. We had many happy memories of living in Oak Park and shopping at Wiebolts. They even had a grocery store within the store. I even worked at the S & H Redemption Center in the State Street store. Such fond memories of the 50’s and 60’s. Thanks for the memories. MTK

    1. Dear Monica, I’m doing some research on Chicago department stores. Would you be interested in talking with me sometime about your memories? I would love to learn more about Wieboldt’s in its heyday!

      1. I don’t have any memories but I do have a mink coat and hat from there with a hat box that say wieboldts on it, they are all in excellent condition if anyone is interested in purchasing them.

  2. I started working at the Wieboldt’s in the Meadowdale shopping center in Carpentersville,Il when I was just 16…..worked after school and on the weekends until graduation. My department manager knew I was a budding artist with no college money back in 1964 and recommended me for the apprenticeship in the … it was called back then…. display department. I learned everything about visual merchandising! I stayed with them for ten years, becoming display manager of the Lakehurst, Waukegan store. Because of this wonderful education, I then started my own freelance company where I hired and trained 7 young women, who could not at the time afford a college education, in this wonderful career. I thank this wonderful department store for the education path they made available for me! At 73, I am still pursuing an art career as a water color and pen and ink artist,

    1. Dear Regina, Would you be interested in talking with me some time about your memories with Wieboldt’s? I’m doing some research for a talk that I give on Chicago department stores and love hearing stories like yours. Best, Leslie Goddard

    2. My mom managed women’s and junior sportswear at the Meadowdale Shopping center, for many years. Hired many young woman through the years.
      I loved Christmas at Wieboldts. Santa would come in a helicopter and drop ping pong balls, which you could get prizes from. He then sat in a space outside of the store. We loved collecting S+H stamps! As kids we knew everyone in the store.
      We did not have much money, but my mom working there and with her discount we had beautiful clothes. I think everything we had came from Wiebodts.
      Such fond memories of the store and all the people who worked there ❤️

    3. I love your anecdote. Those were the times when you could talk about working and going to college. I’m a younger generation. In fact, I arrived in Carpentersville, IL in 1984 when I was 12 with no English. By then, Wieboldt’s had left. Today, the big white cylinder tank still there but it doesn’t display the Meadowdale name vertically. Now it reads Carpentersville. I don’t know if back in the 60s it was the same. I’ve seen pictures of Meadowdale in C’ville with this store and lots of cars in the parking lot. It was a scene that will never be repeated.

  3. My Aunt Catherine Hogan was a Police Woman in Chicago in the 40’s . She worked as a floor detective at Wieboldt’s –West Adams St -Ashland to Ogden, after she was semi-retired. I have fond memories of going to that store when she was working there.At Easter she always gave me a cream egg decorated ,form the store.

  4. These are such wonderful memories! I only remember Wieboldt’s in its late years, when it was in decline. The Yorktown store had dusty display shelves that seemed sad and forgotten. It puts things in perspective to hear about its heyday and the many reasons it was so beloved. Thank you SO much for sharing.

  5. We shopped regularly at Wieboldt’s on Lincoln, Ashland and School St.
    As well as doing our Saturday grocery shopping at the National Tea located in Wieboldt’s.

  6. I worked at Wiebolts Department store on State street. I was an elevator operator in 1965-66. In thise days youd did noot have automatic elevators. I had to manually move te elevator up and down and open and close the doors. I had to announce each floor and tell the passangers what was on each floor. I loved Christmas. Such beautiful Christmas decoratons and fabulous toy dept. In fact all the dept dtores on Stte treet were decorated tp the max with animated bears and santa;s n store windows. A true wonderland. L later left my job to go to work across the street at the Chicago Federal Savoings and loan as a teller and late a new accounts repesentative. I then got a joh at International Telephone and Telegraph Center of Lake Michigan Drive. I was a sec’y to the manager of the computer programmng department. We were an Internet server. It was the start of the computer age. So long ago. Computers were ceiling to floor and wall to wll and spit out ticer tapes . They ran so hot that the air conditioners were on all year long and sometimes they even opened windows in winter. It was so cold in that room that the programmer wore their winter overcoats all day lomg. So long ago. I was 19 years old..

  7. Thank you. I loved Chicago. I came from a small town area. Off a farm to the big city. It was wonderful. I lived on Sedgwick and Dickens. There was a St Augustone hospital across from me. I was also not far from the Lincoln Park Zoo. (I even donated an iguanna to the zoo) In the other direction was an area called OLD TOWN> What fun, A Hippie kind of place.. Lots of places to drink and listen to bands play folk songs or a man on stage with a guitar reciting poetry about the state of the government and the Viet Nam war. There was even a Dixieland band bar that gave you a songbook so you could sing along with the band. Lots of artist sold their paintings and sculptures on the street. A bit like New Orleans in Chicago I loved that place. There was also a Mexican restaurant not far from there . I think it was called Hacienda Del Sol and they had a real Mexican style band with the huge guitars and drums, The Mexican young men would ask you to dance and it would be th Flameco style dancing Good Fun. I left Chicago after the big snowstorm that covered the cars so deep that only antennas stuck out of the snow all along the lake shore drive, I was snowed into my apt for 3 days. Helicoptors delivered supplies to the hospital. It was the worst storm I ever saw in my life .

  8. I remember the Weiboldt’s store at Milwaukee and Ashland. Ours was a young immigrant family, in the early 1950s. My mom used to shop there, and I remember going there with my father and brother Christmas shopping. What a marvelous experience. When in college, in the 1960s, I redeemed a bunch of S&H green stamps books for a tennis racket, that I still have today. Very fond memories of a special place.

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