Hi everyone! Today I will be writing that famous toy store, Children’s Bargain Town U.S.A. that was in business prominently in the late 1950s, 1960s and early 1970s in the Chicagoland area. My earliest memory of that store was when it aired TV commercials during The Ray Rayner Show and Bozo’s Circus. That memorable slogan was, “Bargain Town!” It was repeated at least three times. I also remembered that disembodied head with its hat that was on the store signs, newspaper, and television ads.
When Children’s Bargain Town opened around the late 50s, it was a unique toy store. I only visited once, and that was located at E 92nd St in the South Chicago neighborhood. I was living in South Shore during the 60s and my mother, brothers and I took the CTA Bus, which the route was 27 South Deering to do some shopping. We stopped at Goldblatt’s first, which was located on S Commercial Ave, and then we walked to the toy store. My brothers had no memories of going there because they were too young, but I remembered a few things from going there.
There were shelves of board games. Bicycles, dolls, balls, hula hoops, and do-it-yourself kits were on display. There was one toy that stood out and grabbed my attention was the game Ker-Plunk by Ideal Toys. I remembered the commercial from TV. I beg my mother to buy it for us, and she said yes. We took it home and me my one brother played with it for hours. My younger was only one year old then, so he couldn’t play with us. Eventually, we got tired of playing it, but we kept the game for years until my brother and I were in the mood to play again.
When we moved to Roseland in 1969, we went never to Bargain Town again. We bought our toys at Gately’s People Store at S Michigan Ave. The toy department was located in the basement right near where they made their famous and delicious doughnuts. I believe that around that time, Bargain Town had at least 7 or 8 locations in the Chicagoland area.
Around 1971, the store changed its name to Toys “R” Us. It kept the name Children’s Bargain Town underneath its new name until the early 80s. When we moved to the Ashburn neighborhood in 1974, the nearest store by our house was at W 81st St and S Cicero Ave in Burbank IL. It was previously located at S Cicero Ave and W 63rd St near Midway Airport. I never went to that one.
I shopped at Toys “R” Us for years, but when I did that, I felt the name Bargain Town name should have been kept. It brings a nice, warm, nostalgic feeling to me and to everyone else. The toy store was in business for a long time until it went out of business in June 2018. The store has returned recently in Chicago but under a different name called Toys “R” Us Adventure.
I wished Bargain Town would come back, but I doubt it will. There aren’t many independent toy stores around these days. Gone are Dispensa’s Castle of Toys, Toys by Rizzi, C. Foster, Circus World, Child World, Kay-Bee Toys and many others. I loved going to toy stores as a kid. It was magical and fun. Your eyes were feasted on the most beautiful things and when you see you the first toy that will own, the memory of that will be there for the rest of your life and you will cherish it. If you are on Facebook, please follow my page. A Tribute to Children’s Bargain Town U.S.A. Toy Store in Chicago. Thank you. Pete Kastanes-Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.