Tag Archives: history

Variety Fair 5 and 10

4 Nov
Variety Fair Store Front

Variety Fair 5 & 10, since 1948

My dad’s criminal career began and ended one day in the Rice Village when he was about 11 years old.  He tried to shoplift some candy from the local 5 & 10, when he was caught by the proprietor, Mr. Klinger.  I’m not sure what Mr. Klinger said to my father, but it must have worked.  To my knowledge my dad was shamed and turned away from his life of crime.

Mr. Klinger

Mr. Klinger greets customers in the olden days, while keeping an eye on that kid

Dad

What you got in there in your hands, son? Dad resisting temptation.

The old 5 & 10 is still there on Rice Blvd., all 2500 square feet filled to the absolute ceiling with the kookiest wares available for sale anywhere.  In my post about Halloween shopping, I mentioned how we found the PERFECT wig there, and for $12 bucks it was a good deal!

I grew up in the same house that my dad grew up in, and while the neighborhood has changed quite a bit over the past 5 or 6 decades, the 5 and 10 is one little piece of continuity that hangs on amidst all the change.  They’ve stayed pretty constant through the waves of gentrification and economic hard times.  In fact, a shopping trip through the crowded aisles of the shop is like a trip through a pop culture museum.  Every aisle has some artifact of daily life from previous decades.

Need a child’s Halloween costume/pajama combo from 1983?

princess costume

from when children's costumes and pajamas were extra flammable!

Need toiletries even your grandmother finds outdated?

old toiletries

Fels-Naptha soap. The brand name you can trust.

Planning to rob banks, and want a mask of every presidential candidate since 1992 to protect your gang’s identities?

political masks

all sold out of Nader, I see

Did your favorite knitting needle company go under?  Want some AUTHENTIC tie die, from 1973?

tie die

a campaign for the nascent green movement - color recycling!

Anything you can possibly never need nor want.  All in one place.  This is truly a Houston treasure.

vf wares

plastic gavels and wedding rings are in this section, next to the sport ball charms. in case you were wondering.

spinner cap

you know you want this cap.

Andrew

Andrew browsing. His first 5 & 10 experience left him breathless with excitement (possibly clausterphobia).

cash register

the old register, still in use. where Dad would have paid for his candy, had he not attempted to steal it!

klinger sign

Mr. Klinger is still greeting his customers.

There is a Variety Fair website.  Before you get impressed about how terribly modern that is and congratulate them, you should know that, true to form, it hasn’t been updated since about 1998.  I love this place!

UPDATE:  I’m including this post in the Texas Photo Roundup at Wandering Off!