McHenry’s Dollar Days

During most of the 20th Century, McHenry had a semi-annual event called Dollar Day. Eventually, in the 1950s as the event became more popular,  Dollar Days that was held most often over a two day period. The concept was relativity simple. Businesses in town would offer items at a $1 or offer drastically reduced prices on items. Dollar Days started in the 1920s and ran approximately bi-annually into the 1980s. They event had anywhere from 25 to 60 businesses involved on any given year.
Dollar Day - Feb 18, 1926
Dollar Day promotion from February 1926.
There were two main reasons for the push for this type of event. First, even in the 1920s and 30s people could see the importance of shopping locally. It helped build the community and strengthen the local economy. Secondly, it gave store owners the chance to promote new items, unload merchandise that wasn’t selling or clothing that was soon going to be out of season. This was a very useful way to unload clothing you didn’t want to store over the off-season.
Dollar Day Bargains - Jan 20, 1921
Dollar Day advertisement for McGee & Conway that ran in January 1921.
There were a variety of items that were offered. Everything from clothing, tools, hairdryers, subscriptions to the McHenry Plaindealer, specials on food at local restaurants and even DDT bombs for pest control. Many of McHenry’s longtime businesses participated such as Thomas Bolger’s Pharmacy, Ace Hardware, Hornsby’s and the National Tea Company just to name a few.
Overall the events were generally very successful in attracting hundreds of shoppers. Dollar Days were usually sponsored by the McHenry Chamber of Commerce. The local newspaper, the McHenry Plaindealer, also advertised heavily, often having full paged ads. It was through the paper and the mail, that flyers for the event could be circulated.
Dollar Day Ad - March 14, 1935
Dollar Day ad from March 1935.


“City Merchants Are Offering Fine Values.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 16 Feb. 1956: 1.
“Extraordinary Values Offered In City Stores.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 20 Aug. 1953: 1.
“Local Stores Offer Numerous Special Sales.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 7 Feb. 1957: 1.
“McHenry Dollar Day Successful.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 28 Mar. 1935: 1.
“Merchants Offer Good Bargains.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 21 Mar. 1935: 1.
“Outstanding Values Offered By Businessmen.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 8 Aug. 1963: 1,8.
“Twenty-Six Merchants To Offer Values.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 8 Feb. 1962: 1.
“36 Stores Hold Dollar Days.” McHenry Plaindealer [McHenry, IL] 21 Jan. 1976: 1.