Classic News Stand Closing in DeKalb, IL

Friday was the last day for a popular DeKalb intitution. A story in the DeKalb Daily Chronicle recounts the history and good times at Ralph’s News Stand & Trophy House, 664 E. Lincoln Highway. Ralph Seats owned and operated the store from 1952 until his death last year at age 83. It was popular with locals but, as the article explained, “With a small number of street parking spots near the store—and an influx of chain stores offering some, but not all, of the same services as the shop—Ralph’s is yet another signature mom-and-pop style shop to shut its doors.”

Like an old-time general store, Ralph’s carried a bit of everything: “Lock de-icer can be found next to chewing tobacco. Toward the back of the store are rows of cards offering warm praises for birthdays, graduations and other life events. Sitting among chewing gum is an old-fashioned rotary-dial phone with a detachable ear piece connected to a cord … lottery tickets, trophy engraving, Western Union service, tobacco, magazines, newspapers and a tube tester from the years when TVs needed tubes to operate.

Ralph’s first opened in the middle of the 600 block before moving to the corner of Seventh Street and Lincoln Highway. For decades it was open 5 am till midnight. Ralph insisted a big-band radio station be on at all times, which it was—until he left! His widow Doris said it’s hard to close, but “it’s a little more than I can take. It’s sad not having him here. I miss him.”

Photo Ralph’s Magazines by Joe Thorn

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3 Responses to “Classic News Stand Closing in DeKalb, IL”

  1. RoadDog Says:

    I visited this place quite often. At one time, they had a little stand with 45s which had previously been used in jukeboxes for 39 cents each. Some weren’t badly scratched and worn, but you had to check closely.

    Reminds me a lot of Smith Brothers in Clinton, Iowa.

    Sorry to see it close.

  2. Jen Says:

    Too bad. Really, it must be very hard for such places to stay open when, as the article noted, many of the same items and often at a slight discount. I’m not sure it’s worth saving 20 cents on my magazines to let a place like this go out of business, but…convenience. At least that is what they call it!

  3. Lisa Says:

    My dad stopped here every weekend for the sunday paper through the entire decade of the 80s. Ralph always gave us kids, my brother and I, a free candy bar. Every week. I have never forgotten. The photos are -amazing-; in 2007 the store looked exactly like it did in like 1984, down to the halloween masks everywhere.

    I’m sad to discover this place closed so relatively recently – it was a wonderland. As a kid in grade school I would stare at the massive quantities of vintage merchandise offered in the store and wonder -why- it was there – I could tell it was old – but it was amazing, it was a time machine of all the decades it had seen business, and all that merchandise from the 60s and 70s etc was new store stock. When this store closed the attic must have been an absolute treasure chest.

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