York Town Square

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Retailers in York, Pa., in late 1960s hedged bets on downtown by opening suburban stores

Gregory’s menswear occupied this North George Street for decades after moving there in 1939. Its former building is being renovated into apartments – the Codo 28 project – and its former storefront is being marketed as a coffee shop. Also of interest: A historic York walking tour of the Sovereign Bank stadium area and York County’s connection to the French Quarter and The 1950s, ’60s: ‘The greatest time to grow up in York, Pa.’

A recent York Town Square blog post – York, Pa.’s downtown: ‘This once bustling hub is becoming bustling once again’ – explored the progression of Diehl Candy
Company to Gregory’s to the new Codo 28 apartments in one North George Street building. It brought to mind a late-1960s trend in downtown York.
With the growth of suburban malls, the downtown stores were opening branches in the York Mall, the North Mall and elsewhere. That came before the race riots of 1968 and 1969 expedited movement of retail businesses from the downtown. Many people refused to come to center city York to shop after that… .

In a sense, downtown retailers were partially responsible for their own decline and the loss of retailing in York’s central business district by opening suburban stores. But who could blame the owners for seeking new business opportunities in the sparkling new plazas ringing York? It was a both-and business strategy that seemed to be the only option.
“Greater York in Action,” a York Chamber of Commerce book published in 1968, told about plans of Gregory’s, The Bon-Ton and other retailers to do business in the suburbs. The book was designed to promote chamber businesses and did not get into an analysis about whether the opening of suburban stores by the downtown Big Boys would expedite the loss of retail in York’s core.
It provided the following facts about the men’s clothing retailer:
– Samuel F. Gregory founded the store in 1905, originally a men’s hat store on South Geroge Street.
– The store moved to North George in 1939 and incorporated in 1955 with Marshall G. Gregory as president.
– Its first shopping center store was due to open in 1968 at the York Mall.
– In 1968, Marshall Gregory and son, Samuel and Thomas, operated the store.
The family expected to “continue to make Gregory’s York’s Great Men’s Store for many years to come.” That wish did not come true. Gregory’s name no longer graces the front of a York-area store.
But its former 28 N. George St. address will continue on – emphasized, in fact. The building will be renamed Codo 28.
For more details on retail’s movement to suburban York in the late 1960s, see: From top dog and hot dogs to dogfight and dog days in York County, Pa..
Also of interest:
Before Geno’s made news in Philly, Gino’s headlined in York.
Just try to resist studying this memory-tugging photograph.
York scored another first: Wal-Mart’s entry into Pa.
All York Town Square posts from the start. (Key word search by using “find” on browser.) Or search via Google.
All Linked In/Neat Stuff posts from the start..
Image courtesy of the York Chamber of Commerce’s Greater York in Action, 1968.