Sunday, July 11, 2010

Bargain Fair

In 1956 the discount store “Bargain Fair” opened on Sandusky’s West Side, at the site of an old roller rink, built by Emery Ward and operated by Lou DeBenjak and Leo Finkler.

Later known as "Mr. Wiggs," the original Bargain Fair store was located 2609 Venice Road. Harry J. Lorber wrote a feature article about the Mr. Wiggs store on Venice Road in the May 22, 1976 issue of the Sandusky Register. He interviewed Ed Singer, who was the chief executive officer of Mr. Wiggs at that time. Singer said that when Bargain Fair first opened in 1956, there were no homes west of the store, just farms. Except for the Giant Tiger store in Perkins, most of the shopping in Sandusky took place at the Cleveland Road Sandusky Plaza and in downtown Sandusky. There weren’t even dial telephones in Sandusky in 1956. Bargain Fair was athe first store in Sandusky to be open on Sunday. The Ford plant was just in the planning stages in 1956, and one of Sandusky’s biggest employers at that time was Philco, also on the west side of Sandusky.

The Register article told how Dave Wiggins founded the first Bargain Fair in Mentor, Ohio. “In the 1950s, as the nation emerged from a shortage economy of the war and post-war years, a new form of retailing was born. Discounting appealed to the price-consious consumer and offered merchandise at a lower price without frills, services or plush decor…Humble facilities where merchandise could be laid out for self-service at a low price was the prime consideration in this type of operation.” Promotions were popular at Bargain Fair. A “Krazy Daze” sale at the Mentor Bargain Fair attracted 50,000 customers to the store on one day in 1954.

Other discount stores to come to Sandusky before K-Mart and WalMart, were Hill’s and Ontario, both located on Perkins Avenue. Bargain Fair, later known as Mr. Wiggs, was sold to Heck’s Department Store, a division of Tri-State Wholesale from Charleston, West Virginia, in 1981. After Heck’s closed it doors, Pat Catan’s operated at 2609 Venice Road for several years.

Bargain Fair’s Second Birthday advertisement appeared in the October 24, 1958 issue of the Sandusky Register.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for that post. I've been following this blog for some time but have never before seen the name of someone I was related to: my grandmother was married to Lou DeBenjak (her 2nd husband) for several years before her death.

Mentorite said...

But, did the Bargain Fair in Sandusky have a go cart track out back, down the hill like Mentor?

Paula Pszenny said...

Do you have any information about Pauline Pszenny my mother who worked at Bargain Fair in 1956 until ? ? Thank you for any help you can give me