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Variety Fair writes final page on June 30th


At the end of this month (on June 30th, 2010 to be exact), Variety Fair 5 & 10 will close its doors forever, ending a successful run of 61.55 years (or 22,483 days to be exact). It slips into Houston’s history (or Rice Village history to be exact) alongside its neighbors Mading’s Drugs, Finger’s Early American Furniture, Foote’s Cafeteria and Jones Apothecary.

All photos by Marie Brannon

Company founder Ben Klinger was fond of saying he called it a 5 & 10 because “it will take you five or ten days to see everything”. He was right, so you had better get on over there and pick out your souvenir soon. Sales are brisk and merchandise is disappearing fast.

Original storefront, 2415 Rice Boulevard

When you walk into the store it appears pretty much the same as it did back in the 1950s, 60s, or 70s…. but don’t let those appearances deceive you. Current owner Cathy Irby (daughter of Ben Klinger to be exact) says she is purposely moving the merchandise around and keeping most of it “at eye level” to preserve the look and feel of the place until the very end.

The store survived more than sixty years because it stocked an amazing array of “nickel-and-dime” items such as wax lips, old-fashioned hairpins, inflatable coins and three-carat diamond rings (three-carrot rings to be exact). It also stocked “real” items such as postcards, cookie cutters, hardware items, tools, flatware and greeting cards.

Cathy Irby and a pair of seamless stockings

So don’t be shy. Get on over to the Rice Village and have one last look around. Walk on those comforting black-and-white tile floors (faded black and tired white to be exact) for the last time. Buy something silly or something frilly. You’ll be glad you did. 

The Klinger family in front of Variety Fair in the Rice Village



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