Only in York County

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More memories of the former W.T. Grant stores

I’ve written a few times in the past about the former W.T. Grant stores following a 2013 Ask Joan question from Rami Norris, who was curious about whether what’s now a Kmart on Haines Road in Springettsbury Township used to be a Grant’s or not. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.)

Later that year, several readers shared details on where there were Grant’s stores in York County, and I realized later that I’d first written about Grant’s in a 2011 post from a woman who worked as a window-dresser there.

Since all of that, though, I’ve received yet more Grant’s notes and memories, and I wanted to share those today! One thing I do not have is a single photo of W.T. Grant, so if you have a picture or postcard depicting it, I’d be glad to see it!

From our original question-asker, Rami Norris, I received the following follow-up letter: “I so enjoyed the article in the York Sunday News about the W.T. Grant company. I was the one that asked about the locations earlier… It reminded me of ‘simpler’ times. I remember you had to take a math test before you could be hired there. Ironically, the test that I took there in 1974 was the same one that my mother took as a teen in the ’50s to work there. She had remembered which question that she got wrong and informed me of the answer should it be on the test. Sure enough, it was on there. The cash registers did not tell us how much change to give back. Can you imagine that now days! Also, we had to memorize the newspaper ads.”

From reader Marty Jacobs, I heard, “In 1964 when I was 16 and a junior in high school, I worked at the W.T. Grant store in downtown York during the month of December. They needed extra help during Christmas and I was lucky enough to get a part time job at $1.25 an hour. I had to wear a coat and tie and my responsibilities were to maintain the cash drawer. When people at their registers would call out for change I would get their money, take it to my change drawer, use the key hanging around my neck to unlock the drawer and take change back to the clerk at the register. It was kind of a fun job and the extra money for Christmas was good. It supplemented my $5.00 a week I would get for delivering 135 Sunday papers but only if I was able to collect the money from everyone on Monday. The manager of Grant’s at that time was a Mr. Guida and the assistant was a well-known singer from the area, Wayne Thomas.”

And another fun note came from Jim Fantom, who wrote, “I have a story about Grant’s department store. My wife and I were married in August of ’73, at that time there was a Grant’s in the now 83 Outlet. They were running a contest where if you bought something they would give you a card with a letter on it (G R A N T S). The idea was to get enough cards that you would be able to spell Grant’s. My wife happened to be one letter short and when her father called he said that he had an extra letter. Well on Thanksgiving night, WSBA radio did a countdown of the 10 letter cards. As you may have figured out by now, my wife had the winning card, yes, the one her father gave her. They were giving away a brand new Subaru car. It just so happen that I had bought my wife a new car when we got married, therefore we asked Diehl Motors if they wanted to by it back. They agreed for a grand total of $2,700. I believe we still have the picture of her receiving the keys to the car.”

Finally, I heard from reader Keith Collier, who was ruminating about the previous Grant’s locations and was then spurred to remember other department stores in the area.

He wrote, “Just off South Queen, on Edgar Street, where the first Weis Market in York is still located (I think – the first was either that one or the one at Haines and E. Market St.), was another department store, Masters, owned and managed by Stanley Mailman, who shortly after (early-to-mid- 60’s) opened Mailman’s department store in the then-new Queensgate Shopping Center. The anchor at the other end was Food Fair market, where Weis is now. In between were McCrory’s (Weis side of the center) and People’s Drug store (Mailman’s side of the center). I believe Mailman’s finally closed in the early-to-mid ’90s, to be replaced by The Bon-Ton.”

He added, “Not far from Masters, at the corner of Edgar and Boundary Avenue, was Franklin Discount – a bargain hunter’s mainstay. Franklin had another location in West York where the Giant Foods is now located, across Market St. from the York Expo Center’s main gate. A country cousin (though not directly related thru ownership that I know of) was Collinsville Discount, between Brogue and Airville on Route 74 south of Red Lion. If you couldn’t find it in these stores, it wasn’t a necessity!”

And, finally, Keith added, “It’s amazing how after so many years, one memory can trip so many more! It’s also good to be in so much good company with others who remember so much that I do, in addition to so much more that I never knew before or had forgotten! Thanks again for being the linchpin that allows us to stitch all those memories back together into our collective past!”

Keith, that is one of the most fun things I do in life, so thank YOU (and everyone) for being part of that!

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