My Memories of shopping at Zayre and Wise Way Food Center on S Columbus Ave in Chicago in the 1970s.

wiseway store
Wise Way Food Center once located at 2650 W Columbus Ave in the Ashburn neighborhood of Chicago. You can see the Zayre and Super-X Drugs signs in the background.

Hello everyone. Today I will be writing a story about my memories at the Zayre Shopping Center that was located at 2750 W Columbus Ave in the Ashburn neighborhood. The stores that I remembered or was told were, Zayre Department Store, Super X Drugs, Wise Way Food Center, Kane Liquors, and Reiters. The Zayre Store had its grand opening on May 7, 1964. The other stores were opened probably in the 60s or early 70s. When my family moved to Ashburn in September 1974, and I was about to enter the sixth grade at school, one of the neighbors mentioned to us if you want to buy school supplies, go to Zayre or at Woolworth’s at Ford City Shopping Center.

zayre grand opening :5:7:64

We didn’t start going to Zayre until 1975, because my mother starting to learn to drive. So, the first time I went to Zayre, I remembered the smell of the popcorn and saw they sold pizza slices. I had it one time, and it was very good. We also shopped at Super-X Drugs, but instead, we went to the one that was located at Ford City Shopping Center. I also bought school supplies there.

The other store that my mother frequently shopped was Wise Way Food Center. Most of the time it was reasonably priced, and the meat section had very good selections of beef, chicken, fish, and pork. One of the items that Wise Way had was called Sap’s Glazed Donuts. They were delicious. My mother shopped there for years until it closed, and then she went to Colony Foods that was located on SW Highway in Hometown, IL. It used to be a High-Low Foods Store.

Sap's donuts

The Double Drive-In was located west of Zayre. I have a Facebook page that I run called Ford City Cinema/Double Drive-In from the 50s through the 80s.  I will write a story about the drive-in theater at a later time. I run a Facebook group about my old neighborhood in Ashburn, and the people in the group who used lived and shopped at the Zayre Shopping Center had wonderful memories of those stores.

Zayre went out of business around 1990. I’m not exactly sure when the Zayre store closed on W Columbus Ave. Probably before that. I believe The Wise Way Store closed sometime in the mid-1980s. Wise Ways had few locations in Indiana and there is still one opened in Crown Point, IN.

There was one weird memory that I remembered at Zayre and it was the checkout lights. They were white and orange, like the colors of the Creamsicle. One day when I went there and one of the checkout lights was flashing continuously. It malfunctioned, and the cashier told me it been flashing like for two days, and they had to wait for the repairman to come to fix because he was on vacation for two weeks and there was no one available at the present time and the other workers were too busy. When I looked at the light, I could have sworn I heard a strange humming. It was too creepy and spooky to me.

zayre lights2

zayre lights1Sometimes I miss Zayre and the commercials on TV. They were very catchy and memorable. We now have Wal-Mart and Target. In some ways, Target reminds of Zayre. Presently, there is a warehouse and a church. It looks like a different world. As the old commercial jingle used to say, “Take another look, take another look, take another at Zayre!” Thank you. Pete Kastanes-Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.

10 thoughts on “My Memories of shopping at Zayre and Wise Way Food Center on S Columbus Ave in Chicago in the 1970s.

  1. We used to have two Zayre stores near us, one at 43rd and Ashland and the other at 47th and Halsted, and I think I remember one practically across Cicero Avenue from Midway Airport. I didn’t shop there much, but my father-in-law was there all the time. They seemed to be pretty nice places to shop.

    1. I work at 2750 Columbus. I was operation Manger for a short time. I was hired but the store closed. I was the last employee to leave that store. It was a rough store. Rough neighborhood. I remember one of the manager quit on a Sunday morning. I went in and took over. The drug dealer would use pay phones. The crack users would meet them at the store. LOL. I work 75 stony and 47th Ashland.
      I grew with Zayre. I met my first wife at Zayre.

      Jeffery barnes

    2. Yup the Zayre right across Cicero ave and Midway airport in the 70’s about 6th or 7th grade we would ride our dirt bikes to the empty lot next door to Zayre (lived by Clearing bank which was between Cicero and Central right off 63rd street) and the lot was about two blocks big with trees and trails with jumps, man that was good clean fun back then and with a full tank you could ride and have a blast for hours. Cops never bothered any of us because they knew where we were going and we never bothered anyone or destroyed anyone’s property with our bikes. Man I miss those days with my Suzuki RM125.

  2. When we lived in Chicago, my family always shopped at that Zayre, Wiseway, and the other stores. I would save my allowance to buy WordSearch puzzle books at SuperX. I remember finding the perfect first communion dress at Zayre. Mom said it was too expensive. Somehow I got my father in there (probably during a trip to Kane’s), showed him the dress, and of course it was mine.

    We spent many Sundays at the Double-drive in flea market. I also remember the place at SW Highway and Western, Mr. Shrimp. Didn’t realize what I was missing as a child by always insisting on getting chicken or fish instead of shrimp.

    The orange-color Zayre signs were definitely from later years. We moved from West Englewood (other side of the tracks) to Oak Lawn in 1973. I worked at the Zayre in Bridgeview from 74 to 76. The store colors were pink and navy blue then. Girls wore pink smocks. Guys wore navy. There was another Zayre in Oak Lawn on 111th between Cicero and Central.

    Thanks for the article.

  3. Thanks for the article. Two interesting memories. My mom took me and my two siblings to have a portrait taken in the store. She still has it hanging in her house – now in Alsip. My other memory was that the county sheriff had a mobile unit which displayed a replication of a gas chamber – no $hit. I remember it to this day.

  4. My first job was at Zayre on Columbus Dr., worked there from 1970-72 in the Camera Department. My parents always shop at Wise Way and Super X

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