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Jazz'e Junque Cookie Jar Shop Closing: 'It's Not Like It Used To Be'

 Jazz'e Junque, a vintage cookie jar shop in Lakeview, will close later this summer.
Jazz'e Junque closing
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LAKEVIEW — The lid is closing on Jazz'e Junque, the cookie jar shop in the shadow of the Paulina Brown Line "L" stop.

Owner Mercedes DiRenzo Bolduc, who has been selling vintage wares on and off since 1989, will call it quits when her lease at 3419 N. Lincoln Ave. is up Aug. 31.

She said her last day of business will be in late July or early August (she'll post updates on her Facebook page). Until then, she'll sell off as much of her merchandise as she can.

Janet Fuller discusses the future of Jazz'e Junque on DNAinfo Radio:

Right now, many of her cookie jars and other retro "kitchenalia" are 50 percent off, cookbooks are 25 percent off, and Pyrex and salt-and-pepper shakers are 20 percent off.

 Mercedes DiRenzo Bolduc is closing her Jazz'e Junque vintage kitchenware shop at 3419 N. Lincoln Ave.
Mercedes DiRenzo Bolduc is closing her Jazz'e Junque vintage kitchenware shop at 3419 N. Lincoln Ave.
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DNAInfo/Janet Rausa Fuller

You can get a cookie cutter for as a little as a quarter or a charming Hoosier cabinet for $300. Or you can drop $1,000 on a one-of-a-kind, flamingo-pink cookie jar in the shape of a car, signed by the artist Glenn Appleman.

Bolduc does a brisk business online and will keep the website going. Vintage Pyrex is a big seller these days. She also has a booth at the Gurnee Antique Center and a case at the Broadway Antique Market, 6130 N. Broadway.

Bolduc, 64, doesn't want to close the shop. But she said there were too many reasons why she had to.

"I could go on and on," she said.

For starters, her rent is going up. Bolduc can peek her head out of the shop, look south down Lincoln and see a row of empty storefronts, at least five too many in her opinion. The parking meters cost too much ("I mean, $3 an hour — come on! It used to be a quarter an hour") and she says the meter enforcers are unfairly aggressive. The No. 11 bus no longer passes by, "so if they don't take the "L", they don't come here," she said.

Those who come take their time browsing and, more often than not, leave empty-handed. She has two theories as to why.

"They are not interested in buying kitchenalia and cookie jars because they don't cook a lot." And: "It's not like it used to be, where they'd go to a store, meet the owner, chitchat, the owner says, 'Let me show you what I have.' Now, they go online."

Bolduc can chitchat with the best of them. She said she also could spot a reproduction just by looking at the thumbnail photo online.

She opened Jazz'e Junque (as in "jazzy junk" — the name is "supposed to look kind of French," she said) at Lincoln and Berenice in 1989, selling mainly vintage clothing but also cookie jars, a warm reminder of childhood and her mom's cooking. At the time they also happened to be a hot collector's item — Andy Warhol's collection had sold at a Sotheby's auction the previous year for $250,000. The cookie jars soon edged out the clothing at Jazz'e Junque.

After a decade on Lincoln, Bolduc closed up shop for five years, reopened at Belmont and Paulina for another five years and then moved to the current location in 2010.

She opened a museum in the back of the store built around her extensive, well-preserved collection of juicers, Mixmasters, toasters and children's toy electric stoves (cloth cords and all) from the 1930s and '40s. She charges $1 admission, but really, if you buy something, she'll give you the tour for free.

The museum items are not for sale. Bolduc still hasn't decided what she'll do with them.

Despite the recent hardships, she's had some really good years. Her cookie jars were used on the sets of the movies "Groundhog Day" and "Home Alone." She's even been on "Oprah" and WTTW's "Wild Chicago."

Bolduc told customer Robin Harris Tuesday that she was more nervous about the WTTW appearance — and drank a wine cooler beforehand. Harris had driven in from Arlington Heights to get her hair done at a salon around the corner, but was a vintage kitchenware fan herself, and she'd seen the closing signs in the window.

"I'm really sad because look at me, I'm old, and I'd much rather go into a store where I can actually see things," said Harris, a semiretired administrative assistant. "I will tell you, I bought two things on eBay and I've never been more disappointed in my life."

Alas, Bolduc didn't have what Harris was looking for (a hanging spice cabinet), but Harris did find a framed A&P advertisement for Eight O'Clock Coffee dated Oct. 26, 1957.

"My husband's going to go crazy for it," she said.

She took it to the register where Bolduc stood. Behind her, an episode of "Leave It To Beaver" played on a small TV. Bolduc keeps DVDs of the shows she grew up watching on rotation.

While Harris browsed more, the two women continued to chat — about whether or not to freeze coffee beans, about Bolduc's rent issue, about a fish-shaped cookie jar.

"I could just be here forever," Harris said, "except I can't."