Dorri Partain

If a product bore the Katz label, consumers could be sure they were paying the lowest price in town.

At Katz Cut-Rate Drug Stores, the face of a smiling black cat ensured a bargain. As operated by brothers Issac (Ike, 1879-1956) and Michael (Mike, 1888-1962), a single store in downtown Kansas City grew to 65 stores in five states: Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Tennessee and Oklahoma.

When the first store opened in 1917, the small shop offered mostly candy and cigarettes. Adding a pharmacy meant they could stay open later and all products were offered at the lowest price possible – and still make a profit.

Branded products began when Katz would stamp their name on cigarette packs to keep competitors from buying at their low prices and selling at the regular price for their own profit. By the late 1920’s the Katz label would appear on staple products such as canned nuts and ground coffee. To the chagrin of local grocers, other Katz brand items included cereal, flour and crackers in addition to many drug and sundry items.

With as many as 30 departments, low-priced goods included toys, hosiery, electric appliances, radios, paint, varnish and auto supplies. Following the repeal of Prohibition, stores added a liquor department, offering a full array of canned and bottled libations.

First offered in glass bottles, Katz Premium Beer was advertised in 1962 as a canned product, in several different sizes. A 5% beer, Katz Premium was sold as an eight ounce 6-pack for 79 cents, eight cans in a sack for one dollar, or six giant 16 ounce cans for one dollar.

A 1962 radio ad claims: “Take a tip from Ben’s smart wife, A hot tired man likes the comforts of life, When your man comes back home tonight, Serve him Katz beer and treat him right.”

As shown, this 12 ounce can was brewed by Pearl Brewing Company of San Antonio, Tx., which also owned the old Goetz Brewery in St. Joseph, Mo. All the Katz locations were renamed Skaggs Drugs following a merger in 1971.