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News Archive

American Profile magazine, a weekly supplement delivered with many newspapers, recently recalled the story of how Murphy’s made the “Wooly Willy” toy a nationwide sensation. (Posted Sept. 24. 2009)

The former G.C. Murphy Co. store in Punxsutawney, Pa.—the town best known for hosting the world’s largest Groundhog Day celebrations—as been transformed into a regional education center for Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The IUP Fairman Centre includes three classrooms, a 112-seat auditorium, and twelve apartments housing up to twenty-three students. Located at 101 Mahoning St., the building was home to the G.C. Murphy Co. from 1934 through 1985. (Posted Sept. 17. 2009)

Aubrey Johnson, former vice president of merchandising for the G.C. Murphy Co., died Aug. 19, 2009, at age 87, according to the Fredericksburg, Va., Free Lance-Star. Johnson, a dive-bomber pilot during World War II, spent more than 42 years with the Company. (Posted Aug. 19. 2009)

PCN’s “PA Books”will feature For the Love of Murphy’s on April 26. Check local listings for times and availability. (Posted April 2, 2009)

An article in the September 2008 issue of Harvard Business Review which supposedly described the “biggest business failures of all time” blamed G.C. Murphy Co. employees for the bankruptcies and subsequent failure of Ames Department Stores Inc. Tom Hudak, former chairman of the board of Murphy’s, one-time board member of Ames, and member of the board of G.C. Murphy Co. Foundation, has set the record straight. (Posted April 2, 2009)

The last remaining Woolworth five-and-10 stores in the United Kingdom have closed, a victim of the worldwide economic downtown. The stores were originally part of the American F.W. Woolworth Co. but had long since been spun off into an independent company. The last Woolworth five-and-10 stores in the United States closed in 1997. (Posted Jan. 6, 2009)

Wheeling Murphy’s store part of downtown redevelopment

The city of Wheeling, W.Va., has issued $715,000 in bonds to purchase the former G.C. Murphy Co. store and several neighboring properties, reports the Wheeling Intelligencer. (Posted Jan. 6, 2009)


Murphy Christmas memories

The holidays prompted several writers to remember their own local G.C. Murphy Co. stores, including locations in Wilkinsburg, Pa.; Monessen, Pa.,; Fort Wayne, Ind.; and Fort Worth, Texas. (Posted Jan. 6, 2009)

For the Love of Murphy’s: The Behind-the-Counter Story of a Great American Retailer is available now from Amazon.com and other retailers. More details here. (Posted Nov. 7, 2008)

Humorist Jeff Kay, creator of the blog “The West Virginia Surf Report,” offers memories of teen-age pranks pulled in Murphy’s Mart No. 904 in Dunbar, W.Va. “It was quite a place in its era, at the forefront of the super-center concept where a person could theoretically purchase underwear, a club sandwich, an oil change, and bullets ... And when I was a youngling my friends and I used that place like our own personal giant and incredibly cool playground.” (It’s somewhat off-color, but very funny. Did you pull pranks in Murphy’s Mart? The statute of limitations has now expired, so feel free to confess!) (Posted Nov. 7, 2008)

Customers line up (to vote) at Murphy’s

At least one former G.C. Murphy store played a role in the 2008 presidential election. The former store in downtown Aliquippa, Pa., now used as a community center, was a polling place. “It was wild,” Johnette Dinello, judge of elections, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “How many words can I use? Wild, wild, wild.” (Posted Nov. 5, 2008)

Trick-or-treat time was simpler then

Andrea Rich of Chambersburg, Pa., writes that “trick-or-treaters these days are missing half the point of the event.” She remembers “standing on the warped wooden floor of the aisle in G.C. Murphy Co., or the ‘five and 10’ as my mom called it, one Saturday morning in mid-October and looking at stacks of square cardboard boxes that reached to the ceiling.” (Nov. 1, 2008)

Former Balto. manager passes

Word has been received of the death of Ken Kromer Sr., former store manager in the Baltimore area. An avid model railroader and ham radio buff, Ken is survived by his wife, Elsie; son, Ken Jr.; and two grandchildren. (Grafton, W.Va., Mountain Statesman, Aug. 20, 2008)

Store No. 802 reunion planned

Employees of former Murphy’s Mart No. 802 in Bethel Park, Pa., are planning a reunion this summer. Write to Barbara Zampan c/o 145 Coal Bluff Road, Finleyville, PA 15332 or email brcjmz@verizon net. Barb has tracked down 100 former 802 employees but is looking for more. (Posted June 30, 2008)

The ‘Macy’s of Moultrie’

Beverly Carter of the Moutrie Observer remembers the town’s G.C. Murphy Co. store as the “Macy’s” in that south Georgia city. “I have other fond memories of the rare occasional family outings to the downtown area. But there isn’t enough space to write all of the words to describe those precious moments.” (Posted June 30, 2008)

The upcoming G.C. Murphy Co. history was included in a roundup of books sent by the Post-Gazette's Bob Hoover to newspapers nationwide via the Scripps-Howard wire service. “In Western Pennsylvania, when you said ‘the five-and-10,’ you meant G.C. Murphy’s,” Hoover says. (Posted June 30, 2008)

“If you stop in at the DeBence Antique Music World in Franklin, Pa., be prepared for a tuneful experience,” writes Dave Zuchowski of the New Castle, Pa., News. “The collection of more than 100 self-playing mechanical musical instruments constitutes the largest museum of its type in the United States.” The museum is located in the former G.C. Murphy store at 1261 Liberty St. Call (814) 432-8350 or visit www.debencemusicworld.com. (Posted April 2, 2008)

Former Murphy personnel executive Ken Kinder and his wife Rita are helping patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” Kinder, who worked for Murphy’s for more than 20 years, was diagnosed with ALS in 2002, according to the Monessen, Pa., Valley Independent. (Posted April 2, 2008)

Did you ever order 100 turtles? Jerry Heaton Snyder writes in the Noblesville, Ind., Daily Times that she ordered the critters from the local Murphy’s store as part of a school fundraiser in the 1950s. “The turtles would be put inside a circle and they were to ‘race’ for the line,” she says, but “it was more like watching paint dry.” (Posted April 2, 2008)

The developer who hopes to restore the former Store No. 12 in Pittsburgh’s Market Square has received a $5 million loan from the city’s redevelopment authority so that it can begin construction, reports the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Construction is expected to begin in late May or early June. The store will eventually house apartments, stores and a YMCA. (Posted April 2, 2008)

Murphy’s nostalgia: An Indiana blogger remembers the fun of shopping at the G.C. Murphy store on Indianapolis’ Fountain Square. “Heck, five bucks bought a lot of good things in that store. I could hear my father teasing me when I got home with all my goodies and my perfume on me ... telling me I smelled like I had met up with a skunk ... or he would call the small lip glosses I bought war paint.” (November 10, 2007 | “Hoosier Honey”)

Five-and-10 memories “priceless”: “Remember the smell of hot roasted peanuts and chocolates that used to draw you into the local five & dime, keeping you hostage until you'd bought at least a quarter pound?” asks the Madison, Ind., Courier. The newspaper profiles Bob Brittingham, 89,  who managed Madison’s Morris Five-and-10 Store until that Indiana-based chain was absorbed by Murphy’s in 1950. Then he became manager of the G.C. Murphy store in Madison, remaining with the Company until his 1972 retirement. (September 22, 2007 | Madison Courier)

Store 62 Reunion: Employees of G.C. Murphy Co. store No. 62 in Point Pleasant, W.Va., held their fourth-annual reunion on Aug. 31. Thirty-nine people attended. The next reunion was set for Aug. 16. (August 31, 2007 | Point Pleasant Register via Sharon Webb.)

Which Mack is Mack? There was a boo-boo in a recent newspaper story about a historic house in Indiana County, Pa. The writer says the house was brought to the United States “more than a century ago” by “James S. Mack, president of G.C. Murphy Co.” Murphy’s wasn’t founded until 1906, and John Sephus Mack didn’t become one of the leaders until 1911. His son, James Stephen Mack, didn’t become president until 1952. It’s likely that the “James S. Mack” who imported the house was one of “Seph” Mack’s many relatives in Indiana County. The Macks were among the earliest settlers and have played a prominent role in the county’s history. (August 18, 2007 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Store 12 new home of YMCA: The YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh will open a new Downtown facility in the former Store No. 12 in Downtown Pittsburgh. The YMCA will occupy about 30,000 square feet and become the lead tenant of the Market Square Place project, which also will feature shops and apartments. (June 1, 2007 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Necrology: There have been two more deaths in the G.C. Murphy Co. family. Word has been received of the death of Murphy and Ames veteran Ron Templeton of McMurray, Pa., who passed away May 29, 2007 at age 71. Former Home Office secretary Jessie Pecora of Elizabeth, Pa., died on May 22, 2007, at age 84. Deepest sympathies to their families; Mrs. Pecora was the subject of a news obituary in the Tribune-Review.

N. Tonawanda store being preserved: An effort is underway by the historical society in North Tonawanda, N.Y., to preserve the former G.C. Murphy Co. store at 54 Webster St. The store opened in 1928 and was closed by McCrory Corp. in 1997. (May 21, 2007 | Tonawanda News)

Dave Backstrom passes: Former Murphy district manager Dave Backstrom died May 16, 2007 at age 82. Dave, who stayed with Ames through the 1985 takeover, was a tail gunner on a B-17 during World War II, flying 35 missions. He is survived by four children, eight grandchildren, and a brother, Robert Backstrom, formerly of the Murphy distribution center in McKeesport. (May 18, 2007 | Pittsburgh Tribune-Review )

Pittsburgh’s Store 12 on TV : The former Store No. 12 in Downtown Pittsburgh on Market Square is being used as a set for an upcoming cable TV miniseries. The Kill Point, starring Donnie Wahlberg and John Leguizamo, is the fictional story of a bank robbery and hostage situation. Store 12 isn’t playing itself, unfortunately—the facade has been remodeled and the temporary signs read “Three Rivers Trust Company.” (May 8, 2007 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

McDonald, Pa., store home for arts: Nearly 20 artists calling themselves “Lincoln Avenue Arts” are housed in the former G.C. Murphy Co. store there. They’re helping raise money for the centennial of the borough’s library. (April 15, 2007 | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette)

Remembering Murphy’s: Online news columnist Harmon Jolley remembers G.C. Murphy's two stores in Chattanooga, Tenn. (April 1, 2007 | The Chattanoogan)

Dorothy Hudak passes: Dorothy Hudak, wife of former Murphy Chairman Tom Hudak, died unexpectedly March 5, 2007. Memorial contributions may be made to the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation. (March 7, 2007 | Valley Independent)

Former Bedford, Pa., store reopens: Just a month after being damaged by fire, the former Store No. 130 on West Pitt Street has reopened to antiques vendors, though the second and third floors still need major repairs. (Feb. 15, 2007 | Altoona Mirror)

Fairmont, W.Va., store part of Main Street rehab: Store 172 in Fairmont, W.Va., has been renovated as part of a project to revitalize the city’s downtown. (Feb. 1, 2007 | WBOY-TV)

Bedford, Pa. store burns: The former Store 130 on West Pitt Street in Bedford, Pa., was heavily damaged by fire. The three-story building, constructed in the 1880s, is part of a registered historic district and had been used as an antique mall. The owners plan to rebuild. (Jan. 11, 2007 | Altoona Mirror)

Earl Rehrig passes: Earl Rehrig, retired district manager, died Jan. 1, 2007 at age 87. Earl began work at Murphy’s in 1937 and returned to the Company in 1945 after a hitch in the Army Air Corps. He managed stores in four states before being named a DM in 1972. (Jan. 4, 2007 | Tribune-Review)

Store 12 sold: Washington County developer Millcraft Industries will buy the former Store 12 in Downtown Pittsburgh and adjacent structures for $2.5 million. Work is expected to begin in April to convert the buildings into a mix of loft apartments and retail stores called “Market Square Place” and “Market Square Lofts.” (Dec. 15, 2006 | Post-Gazette)

We’re getting closer: New details on the book project (Nov. 1, 2006)

Email trouble: Have you sent us email? Please read this! (Nov. 1, 2006)


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