York Town Square

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York scored another first: Wal-Mart’s entry into Pa.

A recent post on this blog explored the coming of the first Cracker Barrel to York County – and Pennsylvania.
The opening of that store in 1994 recognized swelling population growth and proximity to a busy interstate. At that time, the York Township restaurant marked the arrival of a true Big Box store in that part of York County – a store that promised to vacuum up 200 jobs.
But Cracker Barrel’s arrival came four years after another first for York County – and Pennsylvania.
The arrival of Wal-Mart.
The retail giant’s first Pennsylvania store – 130,000 square feet in all – opened in the York Mall … .

The Arkansas-based retailer moved into space vacated by JC Penney, which opened a store in the York Galleria in 1989.
The move was part of Wal-Mart’s strategy to tap rich metropolitan markets in the Northeast.
“There are going to be some retailers in the Northeast who are in for a big surprise,” a retail analyst told the York Daily Record.
The analyst should have been a fortune teller.
Wal-Mart took over the struggling York Mall, the York-area’s first covered shopping center.
When built in 1968, the mall spelled doom for downtown retailers in the same way Wal-Mart wounded mom-and-pop shops.
An entry from “Never to be Forgotten” follows:

The 60-store York Mall opens the county’s first “4-season” covered mall. “Have a Ball … Shop the Climate-Controlled York Mall,” an advertisement said. The ad touted free parking for 4,000 cars. Montgomery Ward, Hochschild/Kohn, Jack’s, The Purple Cow and Gregory’s are among the early tenants. The mall joins the nearby York County Shopping Center to form a suburban shopping hub, further draining downtown York of retail traffic. The mall and shopping center met a similar retail challenge in 1989 when the glitzy York Galleria opened in Springettsbury Township, draining its older neighbors of anchors Sears, Bon-Ton and JC Penney. The York County Shopping Center bounced back in the mid-1990s after extensive renovations and the addition of a Giant Store. Despite the presence of Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club, the mall lost tenants throughout the 1990s. In 1998, mall officials confirmed that a Wal-Mart SuperCenter and other anchor tenants would be added.

Other posts linked to Wal-Mart:
From top dog and hot dogs to dogfight and dog days in York County, Pa..
Just try to resist studying this memory-tugging photograph.
It’s not striking, but blocky parking garage tells a story of York.