Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Repurposing a five and dime in Warren PA

When people shopped downtown, they very likely visited a five and dime, a store that offered a wide variety of inexpensive household and personal goods.  Up until the late 1950s, Warren PA offered shoppers 3 choices. 

F. W. Woolworth, 212-214 Liberty Street, which was the first to go out of business.

S. S. Kresge, 200-204 Liberty Street, best known for its lunch counter/soda fountain that stretched most of the length  of the Second Avenue side of the store.

G. C. Murphy, 306 Second Avenue, which also had a side entrance on Liberty Street.  

Kresge's and Murphy's survived into the late 1970s.

In 1979, the opening of the Warren Mall, located about 4 miles north of the city limits on U.S. highway 62, marked a decisive end of downtown Warren's retail hegemony. One by one, the locally owned and operated businesses that flourished for decades closed their doors:  Levinson Brothers department store, Betty Lee, Stein's (both specializing in women's clothing), Brown's Boot Shop, the Style Shop (men's clothing), B&B Smoke Shop (tobacco products, newspapers and magazines), James Jewelers.  The list goes on and on.  

By the end of the 20th century, the most successful new downtown businesses fell into the following 4 categories:  crafts collectibles, used items of all kinds, and off-price merchandise.  The Second Avenue Exchange is one of the most recent examples.  It offers an abundance of items in the first 3 categories. 


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