Hello everyone. Today I will be writing about my fondest memories of shopping at Polk Brothers Appliance Stores in Chicago. They were one of the most well-known businesses in the Chicagoland area for many years. The stores were very distinguished for its top-quality products and customer service. In 1935, Sol Polk opened the business with his three brothers and his sister. It was first called Central Appliance and, Furniture located at 3334 North Central Ave in Chicago. The company changed its name to Polk Brothers in 1946.
The first item that my parents bought at Polk Brothers was a refrigerator from General Electric. We moved to the Ashburn neighborhood in September 1974 from Roseland. It was brown, large, and sturdy. When we moved to Oak Lawn in late 1995, we brought it with us. We don’t use it anymore, and it is unplugged in our garage. We bought the refrigerator when the store was at Ford City Shopping Center in Chicago. It later moved to Burbank, Illinois, when my family bought a reclining chair for my father. He loved that chair! I remember the store had numerous television sets on display. It additionally had washing machines, stoves, vacuum cleaners, dishwashers, and record albums.
Over those successful years, Polk Brothers had a few promotional items on sale. There was the Polka Santa and Frosty The Snowman life-size blow molds. Introduced in the early 1960s, they were the most desired items in their company’s history. Some of the remaining ones are in antique stores and on sale at eBay. The stringed musical instrument, the Polk-a-Lay-Lee Ukelele, was another sought-after item. That one is very scarce to find. I also remembered The American Heritage Dictionary of The English Language and The Random House Encyclopedia.
The salesmen at Polk Brothers were very famous. As you entered the store, they hounded and watched you like a hawk. Most of the time, people were walking out of the stores, holding their merchandise with smiles on their faces. My family and I walked into the store and knew what we wanted. The salesmen were always present at the front entrance. We informed them what we were looking for, and they showed it to us immediately. They were excellent and never caused us any trouble.
During the holiday season, the displayed items were beautiful. I loved their Christmas catchphrase Polks A Poppin’. I remembered seeing their Christmas trees on display. They had green, white and sometimes pink. The Polk Santas and The Frosty The Snowmen were there too. The advertisement sales in newspapers, radio, and television were everywhere. In the 1980s, VCR’s and video camcorders were big sellers. They were brands sold there that don’t exist anymore. Admiral and Zenith are examples.
Polk Brothers went out of business in 1992. I was sad when I heard the news. It lives on as The Polk Brothers. Foundation and is one of the largest charitable organizations in Chicago. There are big discount chain stores such as Best Buy, Wal-mart, and Target that sell appliances these days, but they are not the same. Polk Brothers was a unique store in Chicago. I wished it would come back. I have a Facebook page called A Tribute to Polk Brothers Appliance Stores in Chicago. I post newspaper ads and vintage items from the store. Please check it out if you are on Facebook. Thank you. Pete Kastanes. Admin for Vanished Chicagoland Facebook Page.
6 thoughts on “Polk Brothers Appliance Store memories. What merchandise I bought in Chicago.”
“Most of the time, people walked out of their merchandise with smiles on their faces.” This sentence does not make any sense. How do you “walk out of their merchandise”?
I fixed it. Give me a break, will you? This is not a homework assignment. I’m doing the best I can. I’m not an author. Most people on Facebook don’t really care.
Polk Brothers was a great place to shop, but times have changed. You went there because the sales people knew what they were talking about: if you had a question about which washer or refrigerator was the best, they could tell you, and they could tell you why. Back then, you were making a long-term commitment with an appliance, and you wnted something that worked as well after twenty years as it did when you first bought it. We’ve lived here 33 yeears, and have had four dishwashers, three washers, four refrgerators, etc. That’s the way they make things today, where you expect to have to replace it in ten years, maybe less. Now, appliance stores work with volume. It’s a shame, but that’s the way it goes…
Polk Bothers knew about customer service. The famous Polk Brothers price and they bent over backwards to make you happy. I had a friend who worked in small appliances. It was a side gig for him from his real job. He spoke 11 languages and it helped him make a lot of money. If a customer came and spoke German he said he was German and they started talking and he made the sale. The same with almost all of the people who didn’t speak English, he spoke to them in their language and they felt they were a treasured customer.. Polk Brothers wanted him to quit his real job and work for them full time, and he said no and for over 20 years he was the number 1 guy in small appliances at the store on Central. Polk Brothers treated there employees like gold also which no one does in today’s world. When I got married I furnished my home with all furniture from Polk Brothers. When we were finishing up on the sale they found out we were were newlyweds and they knocked some money off the price. We didn’t ask for it but they did it. Try and get that to happen at a store nowadays. I wish Polk Brothers was still around.
Does anyone remember the giant chair in the parking lot across Central Avenue from the Polk Brothers store? I distinctly remember this as a kid. That and the glitter in the sidewalk in front of Polk Brothers. My memories of PB from the 1960s involve salesman that swooped down on you the moment you entered the store. Also, I got a fishing rod & reel as a kid when my folks bought a washer and dryer there. They would throw in all these bonuses to get you to buy something. Oh boy, those days are long gone…
Just finished the book about Polk Bros ( the second time ). What a dedicated family that loved this country.