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Farewell, Carson's

By Shannon in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 22, 2007 9:43PM


What more is there to say about Carson Pirie Scott? We’ve said so much already. There isn’t much left, much like the slim pickins inside the store, as yesterday was the last day customers were able to buy retail merchandise. We took the opportunity (although we hadn’t planned to and, truthfully, had forgotten the occasion) to scope out the place one last time.

Every shelf , display case, alcove and table was stripped of wares. The only consumables still to be had were some fur coats in one little corner of the first floor. Access above was barred, so we missed the chance to look out our beloved curved windows once more. In the basement, however, was the real party: Fixtures, equipment, decorations and more were up for grabs everywhere we looked. Erstwhile customers milled around, checking out a cabinet here, some leftover industrial staples there. Shoppers will be able to get their hands on Carson’s precious memories until March 17, according to notices posted on several doors throughout the building.

What’s to become of the lovely, Louis Sullivan-designed structure is the subject of much debate. Joseph Freed and Associates, the building’s owner, hasn’t come forth with any concrete details yet, but they’re discussing projects with prospective tenants, including Roundy’s. Such grocery-related customers have led to speculation that Carson’s will become a downtown food mart. Ward Miller, local architecture fanboy and director of the Richard Nickel Committee (Nickel, as you may know, lived and died trying to catalogue Sullivan’s works), expressed dismay concerning this possibility, reasoning that a supermarket would lead to more wear and tear on the 108-year-old building. Only time will tell who’ll win out.

Personally, we will miss the store quite a bit. Macy’s didn’t faze us so much, since we never shopped at Field’s to begin with, but a huge chunk of our jewelry collection was garnered at Carson’s. And while other locations around Chicagoland will stay open, the location with the most history and fondest memories is closing. Beholding some gorgeous pictures in the display windows, we were reminded of what defines Chicago. Carson’s was one of those defining institutions.

Please check out our Flickr set of Carson's last retail day.