L & A Stationers

Gazette Article by: Geoff Fox
Appeared in the Gazette: Fall 2001

 

Interior of L&A Stationers, c. 1960s

L & A STATIONERS AT 65

When asked to provide a history of L & A Stationers, I realized that we are one of the few 65-year old local businesses left in this community. The store was started in 1937 by two ambitious women named Dot Landry and Ruth Anselm (L & A). The building was once part of the North Shore Railroad, a picture of which can be seen on the front cover of the Winnetka Community Calendar.

Dot was known for using a cigarette holder and Ruth knew every record in the record department. Yes, they sold records! The two L & A founders started out with office supplies, fountain pens, fine stationery and then expanded into books, records, cards and wrap. At the time, Lincoln Avenue was a thriving business district with a variety of shops from a green grocer to a car dealership. Residents didn’t have to leave Winnetka for anything because it was all here!

Working for them in high school, I am proud that I learned the stationery business from Dot and Ruth. Eventually, I was able to purchase a part of the business and bought the balance as it became available.

My wife and I have raised our family in Winnetka and continue to be very concerned about the health of its business district, especially since 1% of every sales tax dollar contributes to the infrastructure of the community.

Winnetka used to have a department store on each side of town, green grocers, butchers, lingerie and bath shops, a lumberyard and a plethora of other assorted merchants. Where have they all gone? Remember Elm Street west to east including Powell’s Camera Mart, the cleaners, the Red Door, Vose Bootery, Carson’s, Phelan’s Pharmacy, Porter Electric, Fells, the Surprise Shop (now Village Toy), Johnsen’s Fish Market and the Winnetka Trust and Savings. The south side of the street included Betty’s, T.J. Cullen (in the alleyway), Winnetka Savings and Loan, Cushman Shoes, Charles Variety, the Christian Science Reading Room, Lakeside Foods and Walgreens. And how many ice cream counters do you suppose we had?

The business community has always been an integral part of the Village, both through financial contributions and a familial sense of belonging. Whether you did your own shopping or sent the chauffeur, everyone knew everyone and genuinely cared about Winnetka. Yes, those were special times.

But what a life we still have in small town Winnetka! We have fantastic schools, the Winnetka Community House and wonderful churches. My hope is that one day we will again enjoy a thriving business district.

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5 Responses to “L & A Stationers”

  1. May 11, 2021 at 10:17 AM #

    We loved L&A and were there for cards and many other items. We miss them (and Jeff), Charles Variety, Carson’s, the hardware store and the others. When we moved here with a baby in the spring of 1971, everything we needed was just a few blocks away.

  2. May 11, 2021 at 3:00 PM #

    I remember L&A well.

  3. May 12, 2021 at 7:06 AM #

    I loved going in to L&A. I used to go in for erasers- yes, as a kid I found the colors and scents cool. Later it was all about the listening booths and 45s. It was always a fun experience!

  4. Nancy Henderson May 12, 2021 at 9:54 AM #

    L & A was the place to go for school supplies – because Jeff was there to help with it! And unusual gift items. If they didn’t have it they would order it. Those were the days.

  5. May 13, 2021 at 12:22 AM #

    I was the general manager of L & A. and worked for Geoff and Dot for 24 years. I was proud to be a member of that historical establishment and was treated like a member of the Fox family. Geoff took great care of his customers and protected his employees.

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