After 61 Years Of Business, Variety Fair 5 & 10 Will Close Doors In June
The decision to close Variety Fair 5 & 10 was a decision owner Cathy Irby hoped she would never have to make.
“It’s very emotional,” she said. “It wasn’t a decision that was made overnight.”
Irby and her manager, Janet Huser DeLeon, made the decision to close in December because the store had become financially unmanageable.
“It’s the end of an era for me,” said DeLeon, who has worked at Variety Fair for 30 years. “I wish we could stay here forever.”
Variety Fair 5 & 10 is scheduled to close on June 30. Everything in the store will remain priced as is until Irby has made enough money to cover her expenses.
Irby’s parents, Ben and Alice Klinger opened the dime store in December 1948. The store has been family run and operated ever since. Every member of their family has been in the store to work, she said.
“The store is older than I am so it has always been my life,” Irby said.
When customers walk into the dime store they are greeted with a cardboard cutout of Ben Klinger, who died in 2000, arm outstretched in pride, welcoming anyone who comes through the door.
Boxes of candy, holiday mugs and rubber masks are just some of the things lining the shelves. There are more things in the store than Irby can count, she said. There are some items for sale that have been in the store for 30 years. Variety Fair received an order of 288 “Handi Holders,” a rubber holder for milk or juice containers that makes it easier to pour, 30 years ago and there are still 30 of them in the store.
Irby still uses a cash register that has been in the store since 1950. But the item that has been in the store since the beginning is a rollaway bed, that the staff still takes powernaps on in the back of the shop.
The dime store doesn’t just hold lots of merchandise; it holds many memories as well.
Irby remembers being in the store with her brother when she was eight or nine. Her father had a special going on where if customers spent $10 on school supplies he would give them an ice cream sandwich. When he went back to the freezer to give a customer an ice cream sandwich he found that Irby and her brother had eaten all the ice cream sandwiches.
Irby said she still feels her father in the store.
“When I take a misstep on a ladder and I don’t fall, I know he’s looking out for me,” she said.
Variety Fair 5 & 10 has had customers streaming in since they announced their closing. Irby’s customers have told her how saddened they are with the closing and say she can’t close.
“I don’t want to close this store,” she said.
Irby said it will be hard to drive by 2415 Rice Blvd. once her store closes.
“I’ll probably cry every time.”