Monday, October 13, 2008

Lost Retail: Venture stores

Here's some background culled from the various online sources:

Venture Stores, Inc.
A former chain of retail stores that operated in the American Midwest. The company operated over 90 stores, and was based out of the St. Louis suburb of O'Fallon, Missouri.
Opened: 1970 in St. Louis, MO
Headquarters: O'Fallon, MO
Employees: 18,000
Website: (archived at

1970: First store opened in in the St. Louis suburb of Overland (location became a Kmart and is now a Home Depot).
1976: Expanded to 20 units.
1978: Venture purchased 23 Turn Style locations in the Chicago area from Jewel food stores, and expanded to over 40 locations. They were the largest discount chain in Chicago with inner city locations other than Zayre/Ames.
1985: Over 50 stores, most of which were in Chicago and St. Louis.
1990: Venture became a private corporation, operating in eight states: Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Iowa, Oklahoma, Kansas, Arkansas, and Indiana.
1995: 115 stores in 9 states, having expanded into Texas in 1993.
1998: Bankruptcy. Stores closed in late April

Laura, a Venture fan and super-friend of the blog was kind enough to share some of her cool Venture collectables to help me round out this post

Ad from Oklahoma Cit, Christmas 1984

Venture's advertising slogan during the 1980s was "Save With Style." In the 1990s, Venture used two other slogans; the first was tied to the remodel and
restrategizing to be like Kohl's and that slogan was "See What's New For You!". By the time they closed they used the slogan "See What A Little Money Can Buy".

By the late 1990s, the chain found that it was unable to compete against other retail chains, such as Wal-Mart, Target, and Kmart. Venture tried to return to its founding principles as an upscale discounter and remodeled most of its stores. While facing vast competition Venture made a fatal mistake trying to expand into Texas instead of protecting its core markets. Venture sold the Texas stores to Kmart in 1996 and closed its distribution center in Corsicana, Texas. The company entered Chapter 11 bankruptcy on January 20, 1998, and tried to operate with a smaller number of stores. The effort was not successful, and the company announced its closing on April 27, 1998. Most of the former Venture buildings were absorbed into other chains, such as Kmart, Kohl's, ShopKo, and Burlington Coat Factory


blissful-queen said...

Awesome entry, Matt! I'm glad you were able to use my pics. I'm also geeking out about the Venture sign pics, since I didn't have any of those in my files--thanks for posting those!

Dr. Geektarded said...

Glad there's a couple of new pics for you. Thanks again for taking the time to send in the scans; you really helped to make it a great post. I'll be sure to post any new Venture related things that come my way.


Mr Lucky Doubles said...

I grew up near St Louis, so I totally remember Venture (now), but had completely forgotten about it until I saw your post.

I still dig the name and design. It's very appealing in the way Target is today. Thanks for the post.

Anonymous said...

I miss Venture, everyone I know & have talked to about the store says they miss venture. I shopped there more than I ever did those other places. Target just plain stinks! All their clothes are for younger people, and they aren't that low on prices. BRING VENTURE BACK!

Donald said...

worked at venture for 23 yrs sad to see it go it was like FAMILY nothing like kmar or walmart sorry to see it go hope to hear from other venture fans

Anonymous said...

I used to work at Venture in the Chicago suburbs during the early 90's and work as a cart attendant. Boy was that ever a thankless job. It seemed like on a Saturday or during a holiday I couldn't keep the carts in the store. The highlight of my cart pushing career was when I was summoned to clean up a turd that was laid in the children's clothes section by a child who couldn't make the bathroom. I still have nightmares about that awful store to this day.

cvg1967m said...

Thanks for the great post. I visited Venture a couple times while on trips to Indianapolis. I saved the ads. I live in Cincinnati and there was an article in the Cincinnati Enquirer back when Venture was making a decision to expand either to here (and I am sure other Ohio markets) or to go to Texas. The Execs were here looking at sites. Of course they chose Texas. They should have stayed in the mid-west! There was a Federated Department Stores owned chain called Gold Circle that operated in the Mid-West from 1968 - 1988 when all were sold to Hills or Target. To this day, I people talk about missing do I. We had 6 locations in Cincinnati. Great memories shopping there while growing up. Like Venture, Gold Circle was an upscale discounter ala Target.

Michael Hathman said...

I used to be a Venture employee. It was my first job when I was 16 back in 1985. I loved that place so much. I miss it! LOL

Anonymous said...

I used to be a Venture employee. It was my first job when I was 16 in 1978. Great memories of all the great people I worked with. Sure miss those days.

Anonymous said...

I used to work at the Countryside and Arlington Heights Venture stores between 1984-1998. I really miss the people I worked with. It was a great place to work. In my mind, Venture was how retail is supposed to be.

Anonymous said...

Which store did you work at?

Anonymous said...

I also worked at the Arlington Hts Venture from 1985 to 1990. It was a great job, with an incredible group of co-workers. I worked the snack bar for most of my time there. Great people like Paul Miller, Dan Ostick, Nancy Molinaro, Mumpfred, and others. Hope other Venture 40 people write in.

Michelle Evans said...

I was a brand new bride when Venture came out here to Texas. I quit going to Target, and this became my frequent favorite store. I miss this place and the early to late 90'!

Amanda said...

I still kind of see it as kmart ate venture. Idk what tarhet was doing but walmart was very few stores and no wjere near me when venture closed. I was born in 1985 and grew up in Midlothian IL which isn't that far from chicago some ppl called it far south suburb. I personally dk. Nor does it matter I remember often going to venture frok very young age and because of way I see things I miss the store from time to time and still hold a grudge of sorts to kmart which is why when amazon doesn't have what I want I am more likely to check walmart first and try to aviod kmart.

Kathy Wilson said...

I worked in MIS at Venture Headquarters in O'Fallon and left in 93 with a good stock price just before the dip. Still have some of the friends I made then.... still looking for some that I've lost contact with.

Kathy in Oregon

Anonymous said...

Good memories working with the people at the Crystal Lake IL. store in 1995. The building is a lameass Hobby Lobby store today.

Donna McIntosh said...

I worked for Venture 15 years in several different stores, ( Store 02 Fairview Heights, Store 20 Fairmont City, Store 04 Alton, Store 07 Dunn Rd. Store 19 St. Charles, and Store 132 Bridgeton) They moved me all over the place. I really miss Venture and all the the wonderful people that I worked with in the different stores..

Donna Kelley-McIntosh

Anonymous said...

I got caught stealing cassette tapes at the Venture in Matteson in the early 90's. My dad wore his belt out on me.

andycrossett said...

Loved the snack bar there. Awesome cookies! Went to the Kirkwood store. And went to stores in Bridgeton and Chicago as well.

christi nicki said...

Where was the one in St. louis near Crever Coeur? Was it off of Olive blvd?Can't remember.

Anonymous said...

i270 and olive, woodcrest executive dr.