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waynebretl

Chicago retailing legend connection to 1933 Fair

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Just stumbled across a factlet related to the 1933 Fair for the first time. 

Sol Polk founded the Polk Bros appliance chain in Chicago. In the 50s and later it was one of the largest if not the largest in the country. Sol was a promotional genius, giving away everything from pineapples to plastic light-up Santa Clauses to get store traffic. He once gave away 10, 15 or 25 cases of Coca-Cola with an appliance purchase of a certain amount, then told the customers to come back to pick up the Coke as they needed it, thus creating repeat visits. He donated a half mile of red carpet for Queen Elizabeth's visit to Chicago, then installed it in the stores, advertising "We treat every woman like a Queen!" I personally have owned a Black and Decker weed trimmer that was a premium with an appliance purchase and have an American flag flying that was a premium as well, from over 40 years ago.

Polk Bros went out of business by the 90s, but his heirs operate the Polk Bros Foundation, a major philanthropic force in Chicago.

Here's the factlet: Sol had immigrated from Romania. He saw a steam iron in 1933, and was so impressed, he started selling it door-to-door, and that was the start of the Polk Bros empire.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sol_Polk

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polk_Brothers

http://www.chicagotribune.com/business/ct-navy-pier-0717-biz-20140717-story.html

 

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