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News Article
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Shopping Convenience Comes to Pennsburg
Written by Larry Roeder, Editor

            We don't often get a week around here where two major stores hold their grand openings in the same month.  Forty-six years ago, in February 1977, folks around here slipped their shopping shoes on and headed on out to the recently constructed Pennsburg Square Shopping Center in Pennsburg for the opening of not one, but two

Cutting the ribbon for the opening of the Ames Discount Department Store

are Alma Mullen, left, and store manager Gary Erculiani.  They are

flanked by Pennsburg Mayor James Mullen and June Clarke rep-

resenting the Upper

Perkiomen Valley Chamber of Commerce.

major chain stores, Ames Discount Department Store and Weis Market.

         The days of the corner grocery stores were nearly at an end as well as the small Main Street department stores.  The small hardware stores were slowly fading into history and folks were tired of driving a distance for one-stop shopping.

            The Pennsburg Square Shopping Center was still being developed in 1977 with a promise of 96,000 square feet of shopping space and a parking lot that could hold 320 cars when completed.

            But for now, some stores were opening.

Among a host of items, the opening day ad for Weis

Market featured chicken at 34 cents a pound, chuck steaks

at 59 cents a pound, Braunschwieger for 59 cents a pound,

and, get this, grade A large eggs for 69 cents a pound.

            The Pennsburg Square Shopping Center would become a location where you could park your car once and walk to two major stores and purchase all your needed goods in one trip.

            The new Ames store took up nearly 50,000 square feet of space to house its 87 departments of merchandise.  The chain of stores started in an empty factory in Southbridge, Massachusetts.  It grew into a regional chain of modern stores in 10 different states.

            The Weis market in Pennsburg was the chain's 96th store with most of them located in Pennsylvania.  At the time, Weis operated three stores in Maryland and 14 Albany Public Markets in New York.  The Pennsburg Weis would take up 23,000 square feet.  The new store would feature refrigerated produce shelves bringing the customer a vast collection of fresh and quality produce year-round.

            After Ames closed in 2002, Weis moved into the former department store's location and expanded the floor space.

Weis Market Ribbon cutting, left to right, TV personality Larry

Kane, shopping center developer Gordon Saul, Robert Weis

of Weis Market, Alma Mullen, and Weis store manager

Dennis Helfinger.

            Weis Market is still going strong today at the Pennsburg Square Shopping Center.   As for Ames, they announced in December 2022, via their website that "Ames Department Stores, Inc. is returning in spring [of] 2023. Please keep an eye on this website for announcements on which locations are opening first. Corporate Emails will be posted here shortly. We're still migrating all data to our new servers."

            So, who knows, maybe Ames will find their way back into our region again.






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