Kari-Keen Automobile Trunk
Date: c. 1928
Description: This automobile trunk was manufactured and designed Lier Manufacturing Company, better known by its later name, Kari-Keen Manufacturing Company Inc. Paul Lier patented his design in 1925 and quickly set about trying to respond to the high demands of the era for larger car trunks, as cars during this time often had little to no trunk space. Lier was originally based out of Mitchell, South Dakota but he moved to Sioux City to take advantage of the industrial center. He moved into a former corn planter shop in Leeds and enjoyed an instant success. Not only were trunks in high demand but Lier’s model was adaptable to almost any automobile. The company soon outgrew it Leeds warehouse and moved to Lewis Boulevard. In 1928 the company changed its name to Kari-Keen Manufacturing Company Incorporated, and moved again to 2201 7th Street. A subdivision was created called Kari-Keen Aircraft Company at Leeds Airport, and this company produced the Kari-Keen Coupe airplane, a model of which is hanging in our museum gallery. They also ran a flying school out of Leeds airport.
By 1930 Kari-Keen was in its heyday, producing trunks for 76 different car models, four versions of the Kari-Keen Coupe, a flying school out of Leeds airport and a variety of car accessories. The company had a famous advertisement with Abbot and Lou Costello sitting in one of their trunks, which helped boost sales. But the Depression hit the company hard, with more than just financial strains. The aircraft subdivision folded in late 1930 due to a lawsuit. By the 30s, cars with spacious trunks became standard for most models, killing the demand for Kari-Keen’s main product. The company could not expand into other accessories with the financial difficulties, and fell apart in 1937. Their factory at 7th Street was torn down in 1982.
Donor: Lee Brennan