the economy shop
103 S. Grove, Oak Park IL
It all started in 1919 - when a group of women, led by Mrs. Edward McCready, decided to open a shop similar to a thrift store in Evanston, where donated home furnishings, clothing, etcetera could be sold for the benefit of local charities. So the Economy Shop was conceived. After discussing the possibilities of organizing the resale shop in Oak Park, the women rented a frame house for $45 a month. In 1919 it was known as the old Packard house, at the southeast corner of Lake and Kenilworth (now the present post office). Mrs. Charles Ward Seabury signed the first lease.
Saturday, March 22, 1919
Economy Shop Coming
"When you are cleaning out the china closet this spring, and come across that sugar bowl with the purple pansies which Aunt Abbey gave on your wedding day, don't push it back on the shelf behind the soup tureen!"
Saturday, April 12, 1919
OH! THE ECONOMY SHOP
"If you were married in the golden oak or mission period and are contemplating mahogany now, we can use the oak china cabinet or the mission chairs, as some woman is sure to want them."
Saturday, December 20, 1919
ECONOMY SHOP MILL (excerpt)
"I can remember when we gave everything we didn't want to the laundress or the hired man. Many times the gifts were neither suitable nor useful but, in order not to hurt one's feelings, they accepted them. And instead of doing anybody the least bit of good, many useful things were merely so much junk until they reached the ash pile.
A generation ago there was a laundress who worked for some of our "first families", and when she cleaned house her yard was a panorama (there were no movies then) of styles in house furnishings and clothing, extending over at least a quarter of a century. And instead of being ashamed of ourselves, we felt virtuous because we had been so generous!"
Minutes of Mrs. Harry Richardson, secretary from 1920 through 1927.
"We received a portable garage in November thereby improving our standing in the community, as we were able to remove bed springs from the front porch, and we received a gift of $25 from our neighbor across the street in appreciation."
ECONOMY SHOP NEWS
"How many of the Oak Park business men will give a little help to the Economy Shop in collecting furniture?
"Until the shop is ready to sell goods it cannot afford to pay an express man regularly, and we would like to ask the use of any wagon or motor truck that could be spared to assist in collecting. One half day a week will answer. "
How truly fascinating these women were in a time when they didn't even have the right to vote for their country's leaders, a time when the word "housewife" didn't conjure up a negative image...take a glance at the past through portions of articles, ads and photos found thanks to the Historical Society...starting in 1919 through 1980.
At the time, the shop was open daily. With the legal advice of Walter Herrick, the Economy Shop was incorporated in 1922. Two years later the Shop outgrew the space and the founders bought the present building at 103. S. Grove for $24,000. A mortgage was needed, but in a few years all debts were paid. During the Depression the women kept the shop open. According to one article, the shop had some rough times during the Depression. Nevertheless, they were able to make major improvements during this time. The Seaburys donated money to install an elevator to help take extra stock to the attic. Due to changing conditions in 1930, the Economy Shop very nearly closed, but there was strong opposition to closing entirely. Since that time the Economy Shop has had sales held on two or three days every month.
Saturday, July 5, 1919
ECONOMY SHOP MELON
"Economy Shop has proved itself. True to its conservation principles, it has canned enough money in a real bank to pay its rent, heat and overhead charges for a year, keep a bit for emergencies, and is able, July first, to divide eight hundred dollars between the five local charities.
Mrs. McCready was the first president of the Economy Shop until 1920. She was followed by Mrs. George Davidson, who served until the 1929 election of Mrs. J. H. Nichols. Mrs. C.B. Crandell was named in 1942, serving until the election in 1945 of Mrs. Harry L. Judd, who remained in office for 27 years. Her leadership and devotion was legendary. Upon her retirement Mrs. Bruce Bell served as interim president.
Since then, Mrs. Walter Forbes, Ginny Walworth, Lu Wellman, Jean Erickson, Jim Erickson, Ann Kowalski, Sue Kroger, Carol Soudan, Carolyn Poplett, Zena Paige, Cathy Lund, and Kathi Esqueda have held the presidential office.
Our current president is Nancy Hines.
*We were able to ask past presidents to verify our information. If you have any information on a president that was missed or have further details, we would love to know!*
Saturday, April 5, 1919
ECONOMY SHOP TO OPEN
"Do you know who has taken the old Packard house at Lake and Kenilworth? A group of women representing the five Oak Park charities is planning to open a permanent shop there, where they will sell everything. That is a large word, but this is the idea: Mrs. Housewife, you are to give them anything you can spare in the way of furniture, dishes, ornaments and clothing, which you may not need, but which is sure to be needed by some other woman who can buy it for very little, and the proceeds will go to Oak Park charities."
The President Mrs. Harry Judd sits before pictures of the Economy Shop founders. Rachel Crandell (top left) and Mrs. J.L. Nichols. Below, (left) Kathryn Funk, first shop manager, and Mrs. E.W. McCready, first president. The photos were on display during the shop's Golden anniversary open house in 1969.