Remembering Penny Candy and Oriole Records at McCrory
McCrory Stores, also known as J.G. McCrory’s, was a beloved chain of five-and-dime stores that operated throughout the United States. Headquartered in York, Pennsylvania, these stores were known for their wide variety of merchandise, including shoes, clothing, housewares, fabrics, penny candy, toys, and cosmetics. Yet, despite its large following and countless stores, McCrory’s couldn’t keep up with changing times and eventually met its demise in the early 2000s.
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McCrory: The Early Days
McCrory’s was founded by John Graham McCrorey in 1882, when he opened his first store in Scottdale, Pennsylvania. The chain quickly grew to five stores across the state by 1885, known for its wide variety of merchandise at affordable prices. McCrorey’s strategy of acquiring new locations at reasonable costs helped the company to expand rapidly, and McCrory’s penny-pinching nature was reflected in the company’s business practices. By the mid-1920s, the chain had 187 stores and gross sales approaching $30 million.
McCrory’s experienced continued growth and success in the 1920s, acquiring rival stores and expanding its reach. In 1960, it was merged with rival H.L.Green Co. and moved its headquarters to York County, Pennsylvania, making it the fourth largest retailer in the United States. The company continued to thrive and grow during the 1960s and ’70s, solidifying its position as a leading retail chain in the country.
Despite its previous successes, McCrory’s encountered financial struggles in the early 1930s, and in January 1933, the company entered bankruptcy. Though the company was dissolved, it eventually re-established itself as McCrory Stores and resumed operations.
One of the early investors in the company was Meshulam Riklis, who controlled McCrory’s through the Rapid-American holding company. Riklis’ management of the company was the subject of criticism, with accusations that he drove the brand name into bankruptcy while keeping the assets. This period of financial struggles marked a turning point for the company, and it would take a long time for the company to recover from these financial difficulties.
Eventually, McCrory Stores were able to recover from the financial difficulties of the 1930s and continued to expand and grow in the decades that followed. By 1972, the company purchased the 439-unit J.J. Newberry Company, operating it as a separate division. Then, on January 1, 1981, McCrory Stores purchased the S.H. Kress & Co. chain, which helped expand the company‘s reach.
The 1980s saw the company expanding and remodeling stores as volume and profits grew. Then, in 1985, the company purchased Oklahoma-based TG&Y Discount store chain, but it was a difficult transition, and many of the stores were closed as the 1980s came to an end. In 1987, McCrory Stores purchased the 76 remaining Kresge and Jupiter stores from the KMart Corporation, and in 1989, it bought the GC Murphy Co. from Ames Stores.
By the late 1980s, the McCrory company had 1,300 stores across the country. However, as the 1990s progressed, the retail landscape began to shift, and the company’s fortunes declined. As a result, McCrory filed for bankruptcy in 1992. The increasing popularity of superstores like Target and Walmart, combined with the migration of shoppers from inner cities, proved to be the downfall of the once-successful Five And Ten.
The company underwent several rounds of store closures, with the largest round happening in 1997 when 300 of the remaining 460 stores were shuttered. Despite converting some stores to the Dollar Zone format, these stores also closed in early 2002. In December 2001, McCrory Stores announced that its remaining stores would begin liquidating, and the company officially ceased operations in February 2002.
McCrory’s was more than just a store. It was a beloved part of American retail history. From its early days, it was known for its wide variety of merchandise at affordable prices and its lunch counter or snack bar, making it a popular destination for shoppers looking for a quick bite to eat and a one-stop shop for all their needs. Though it may be gone, the memories of McCrory’s will always live on as a cherished part of American retail history.
About John Graham McCrorey
John Graham McCrorey was an American politician and lawyer who served as the Governor of South Carolina from 1876 to 1877. He was born on October 15, 1837 in Chester County, South Carolina. He attended the University of South Carolina and graduated in 1858.
McCrorey was a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1868 to 1872 and was elected to the South Carolina Senate in 1872. He was elected Governor of South Carolina in 1876 and served one term. During his tenure, he focused on improving the state’s infrastructure and economy. He also worked to improve public education and advocated for civil rights for African Americans.
After leaving office, McCrorey returned to his law practice and was active in politics. He was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1880 and was a member of the South Carolina Constitutional Convention in 1895. He died on April 15, 1902 in Chester County, South Carolina.