Long before there was Costco or Sam's Club, there was E.J. Korvette, one of the pioneering national chains to use a membership program to bring discount retail pricing to the suburbs.
On Oct. 29, 1964, with great fanfare, two Korvettes opened in St. Louis, one in Sunset Hills and one in Cool Valley.
"Everybody loves a bargain," that was the rallying cry as the two stores opened.
Here's how the ad read:
THIS IS THE DOCTRINE we bring with us to the Crossroads of the Nation-the "Gateway to the west" ... St. Louis. THIS IS THE SAME KORVETTE DOCTRINE that motivates our thinking, our planning, our buying, our every policy decision! The doctrine that sent us soaring from one department store to a multi-million dollar retail empire in just 16 years! From Philadelphia to Chicago, Detroit to Baltimore and from Washington, D. G. up to Manhattan's exciting Fifth Avenue... people everywhere shop at E. J. Korvette! WHY? Because they know what makes a Korvette bargain! The fantastic combination of top quality, complete assortments, huge selections and amazing variety; but most important of all THE LOW KORVETTE PRICE TAGS!
But, evidently, not everyone loved the Korvettes.
The stores were supposed to anchor major shopping destinations. However, by 1975, the stores were closed.
Tom Blassie, one of five partners in South Plaza Ventures, later said it was a mistake to put a discount store at the Sunset Hills center. The store never fit in with the surrounding suburbs.
"It set the tone of the past that caused the problems in the present," Blassie said a decade after the opening.
Take a look back at the fanfare surrounding the Korvettes openings.
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