K&B

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K&B
Former type Pharmacy
Industry Retail
Fate Acquired by Rite Aid
Founded 1905
Defunct 1997
Headquarters New Orleans, Louisiana
Products Pharmacy, Liquor, Cosmetics, Health and Beauty Aids, General Merchandise, Snacks, 1 Hour Photo
Website None

K&B (Katz and Besthoff) was a drug store chain headquartered in New Orleans. Founded in 1905, it expanded to have stores in the United States Gulf Coast region until it was purchased by Rite Aid in 1997.

Gustave Katz partnered with Sydney J. Besthoff at 732 Canal Street, New Orleans in 1905, and continually expanded through the 20th century to become a regional chain. It was well known for its unique purple color, with everything in the store (signs, cash registers, employee uniforms, etc.) being "K&B Purple". This color became well known as a descriptive term in the local lexicon - as one might describe something as "forest green", New Orleanians still describe a particular shade of purple as "K&B purple."

K&B had many of its own private label items, including household goods such as logo ice chests and garbage cans (in purple), its own liquor line with names typically beginning with the letters K&B and the YENDIS (Sidney spelled backwards)Liquor brand, and for a time a brand of beer. While the majority of K&B brand products were inexpensive non-descript products locally regarded as just above a generic brand, the line also included well regarded products such as the much beloved line of K&B ice cream; the distinctive K&B Creole Cream Cheese ice cream and it's "talking ice cream freezer display case" TV commercials were local favorites. K&B had its own credit card operation too and since its credit policy was so stringent it became a badge of honor to be awarded a K&B credit card.

K&B's corporate headquarters, K&B Plaza were located at Lee Circle in the New Orleans Central Business District; a synagogue (the original Temple Sinai, built in the 1860s) was torn down on Carondelet Street to construct a parking lot for the office building in the 1970s. The building built in the mid 1960s, was originally designed by I. M. Pei & Associates and owned and occupied by the John Hancock Insurance Company. Featured on the raised terrazzo plaza that surrounded the building is a large marble column topped with a marble crescent fountain called Mississippi fountain (see: http://www.noguchi.org/noguchi/works/mississippi-fountain), done by Isamu Noguchi. In the mid 70's K & B bought the building from John Hancock. The building is still known as K&B Plaza despite the fact that K&B sold its drug stores to Rite Aid in 1997, however the K&B family still own and occupy office space there on the 7th (top) floor from which the family, including 2 of Sydney's daughters, Valerie and Jane, manage their significant real estate business. The building is a showcase for some of Sydney's art collection and is open to the public. The older headquarters and warehouse at 900 Camp Street was donated by K&B to become the headquarters of New Orleans' Contemporary Arts Center at the start of the 1980s. After Rite Aid's rebranding of the chain, items from the stores were sold to the public with proceeds benefiting local charities.

Sydney Besthoff III, the grandson of the drugstore founder, and his wife, Walda are well-known local philanthropists and collectors of Museum quality works of art. Their collection includes works by significant contemporary sculptors. The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park was created from their specifications and donations.

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