Nearly 100-year-old tradition of Paulson’s Paint on Milwaukee Avenue to continue with JC Licht, a paint store company in Chicago since 1907
by BRIAN NADIG
Paulson’s Paint, Wallpaper and Window Fashions, a family-owned business located near the Milwaukee-Bryn Mawr intersection for nearly 100 years, has been sold to JC Licht, which operates about 50 Benjamin Moore Paint and Décor stores and plans to continue the personal, friendly service that has kept Paulson customers coming back.
Oscar E. Carlson Paint Co. opened in the 1920s in a storefront that was next to a drug store at the southwest corner of Milwaukee and Bryn Mawr avenues, where Skil Plaza is now located. In 1945, Carlson sold the business to his nephew, Bob Paulson, who later sold it to his son-in-law, Tony Stephanie.
Stephanie continued to own the business until 1997, when his son Rick Stephanie, longtime store manger Urban Comes and Jon Norden acquired the business. Comes, who was a friend of the Paulson family while growing up, recently celebrated his 50th anniversary of working at the business, and Norden has been at Paulson for close to 40 years.
The store relocated to its current location at 5514 N. Milwaukee Ave. in 1965. “I was 12 or 13 at the time, and I remember being outside with my mother for the grand opening of the new store,” said Norden, whose mother Ferra Paulson had once worked at original location.
Comes said that he is grateful for the opportunities which Stephanie, which once served as president of the National Decorating Products Association, gave him. “He was an innovator,” Comes said. “We were giving computerized invoices in 1984, which was really early on, (and) he started the Mid-America buying group.”
Over the years Paulson has had five locations, with up to three operating at the same time. Its other current store in Forest Park also has been acquired by JC Licht. Rick Stephanie operated that store for the past 22 years.
Both Comes and Norden have seen their own children work at the Northwest Side location.
Comes said that the Paulson tradition will be living on with JC Licht. “JC Licht has been highly respected in the Chicago market since 1907 and has a long history of great customer service,” Comes said. “The share the same values as Paulson’s.”