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Schuylkill County Grocery Stores 25 Years Ago

We recently lost a grocery store in Schuylkill County.

On July 9, the Giant store in downtown Pottsville closed its doors for good.

coal region wayback machine grocery stores schuylkill county 1995

So, for whatever reason, we decided to jump into the Coal Region Wayback Machine – aka the Schuylkill County Parcel Locator – and take a look back at what grocery stores looked like waaaaay back in 1995. Buckle up … that was 25 years ago! (To some people, that’s ancient history.)

Schuylkill County Grocery Stores in the 1990s

Let’s start our journey with the inspiration for this post:

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Giant – Pottsville, PA – November 1994

giant grocery store pottsville 1994

Giant grocery store in downtown Pottsville closed its doors permanently on July 9 at 6 p.m. It operated at this same location on Progress Avenue in Pottsville for nearly 37 years.

In the picture above, taken back in 1994, the store had been open almost 13 years exactly.

Kinda like the deep orange color scheme the store used back in the mid-1990s.

The closing of this store in Pottsville creates a food desert in the downtown area. People limited to being pedestrians are going to have to really hoof it to make it to a proper grocery store until something, potentially, takes Giant’s place.

Insalacos – Pottsville, PA – August 1995

insalacos grocery store pottsville

Shoppers in Pottsville today know it as Boyer’s. But it wasn’t always Boyer’s, of course.

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This grocery store in the city’s Yorkville section used to be the bigger and better Way-Mart store that lasted in Minersville for decades. Way-Mart took over after Insalaco’s departed this location. It may have been a BiLo in between those two. Insalaco’s and BiLo were each owned by the same company.

And before that, this store was an Acme store. It just looks like an Acme, or Ack-a-me.

Weis Markets – Pottsville, PA – October 1995

weis markets pottsville pa 1995

Weis Markets current location in the Pottsville Park Plaza wasn’t where it always was. Previously, the Weis Markets store was at the Fairlane Village Mall. After Weis built the store at the plaza, half this building above became a discount grocery store, Amelia’s, and the Harbor Freight tool store that’s still there today.

Insalacos – Cressona, PA – June 1995

acme insalacos cressona

There used to be an Acme, next to Hills, at the Cressona Mall. In 1995, the Acme was gone and something else took its place.

About 25 years ago, the best a digital camera could do was about 2 megapixels so barring any FBI technology to help us enhance this shot, it’s hard to tell what went in after the Acme.

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This wasn’t long before Insalaco’s built a new store on top of where the Laneco department store sat at Cressona Mall. And this vinyl banner sign does seem to look like it’s got the Insalaco’s logo, but we don’t remember them having a temporary store there. It’s very possible, though.

Boyers – Schuylkill Haven, PA – October 1994

boyers schuylkill haven 1994

The Boyers in Schuylkill Haven back in 1995 looks pretty much the same as it does in 2020, including the blue Chevy van in front.

Delcamps – St. Clair, PA – January 1995

delcamps 1995 st clair pa

Delcamp’s in Saint Clair was the borough’s closest thing to a grocery store back in 1995. This is several years before the Walmart opened.

You can see it pretty much looks the same today as it did all those years ago.

McMullens Market – New Philadelphia, PA – May 1995

mcmullens new philadelphia pa 1995

This is a favorite stop for people who live anywhere between Port Carbon and Tamaqua. That’s a long stretch of Schuylkill County without anything resembling a grocery store. McMullens Market may not be as big as some of the mega grocery stores in the area but it’s got everything you need.

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Definitely a throwback. And it pretty much looks the same on the outside then as it does today.

Boyers – Orwigsburg, PA – July 1995

boyers orwigsburg 1995

This is a look at the side of the building where Boyers in Orwigsburg is today. It looks pretty much the same today as it did then.

We’re also pretty sure 75% of the vehicles in this shot are still on the road.

BG’s Value Market – Pine Grove, PA – June 1995

BGs pine grove 1995

The BG’s Value Market, along Route 443 in Pine Grove, used to be the local Acme. In the mid-90s, BG’s was rather new in town after the Acme closed for good. According to the Schuylkill County Parcel Locator, Acme sold the building to its current owner, Koval & Sninski, on April 17, 1995, not long before this photo was taken.

Berger’s Store – Pine Grove, PA – July 1995

bergers store pine grove 1995

The new Berger’s Store in Pine Grove has undergone several changes and phases over the last 25 years. It could be the best-smelling grocery store in Schuylkill County. You can see, on the right side of this July 1995 photo, it was undergoing an expansion.

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The part with the shingled roof on the left used to be Berger’s restaurant for a short time.

Way-Mart – Minersville, PA – June 1995

waymart minersville 1995

The Way-Mart in Minersville was iconic. The aisles were barely wide enough to get a modern-day cart through but it served the town well for decades. Way-Mart tried expanding into Pottsville, when it occupied what is now the Boyer’s Food Store.

Today, this Way-Mart store is a Dollar General.

Boyers – Tamaqua, PA – May 1995

boyers tamqua pa may 1995

The Ack-a-me was on its way out in Tamaqua and Penn-Traffic was moving in. Based on this sign, it looks like another Insalacos was moving into the area. Without knowing better, it’s difficult to read the sign. If you know better, let us know in the comments.

Today, this place at 210 Cedar St. in Tamaqua is a Boyer’s.

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BiLo Foods – Mahanoy City, PA – October 1995

Bilo mahanoy city october 1995

Here’s another former Acme store, this one in Mahanoy City. By October 1995, it became the BiLo Foods store. BiLo was the Insalacos of the north and also owned by Penn Traffic Co.

The BiLo eventually became the P&R. Eventually it became vacated and purchased by Mahanoy Area School District back in 2014. This building is no longer standing, sadly.

Mahanoy City Food Store – Mahanoy City, PA – March 1995

agostis mahanoy city 1995

This grocery store in Mahanoy City has been serving customers in the heart of the downtown for decades.

Boyers – Shenandoah, PA – April 1995

boyers shenandoah april 1995

Again, with any of these photos from the mid-1990s, there’s a good chance you can go to the Boyers in Shenandoah at any point tomorrow and see at least half the same vehicles in the parking lot. We’re looking at you Pontiac Grand Prix. (We’re going to get mail on that one. Someone is bound to correct us on that model.)

BiLo Foods – Shenandoah, PA – April 1995

Bilo foods shenandoah pa 1995

Here’s what the BiLo Foods building in Shenandoah looked like back in April 1995. This store is no longer operating. The building was purchased by the Twardziks in 2001.

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Weis Markets – Frackville, PA – June 1995

weis markets frackville pa

The Weis Markets store in Frackville used to be up at “the New Mall” before it closed for good. Today, it’s a Big Lots store and we all know what happened to the Schuylkill Mall.

Boyers – Ashland, PA – February 1995

bilo ashland 1995

The current site of Boyers in Ashland used to be a BiLo Foods and before that, like all the others in the county, was previously an Acme. In this shot from February 1995, you can still see signs of the Acme.

Did we miss some? Probably most definitely. We’re expecting to get letters from Hegins. We had trouble locating the place now known as Redners. And we know we’re missing others.

If you remember a grocery store from the mid-1990s in Schuylkill County that’s not listed here, please let us know in the comments section below.

Images: Schuylkill County Map Viewer

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  1. Linda H

    July 10, 2020 at 7:34 am

    I see several Pontiacs in those photos. I am commenting all the time to my husband about seeing so many Pontiacs on the roads here in Lebanon Co. Last Pontiacs were made was December 2009. Dang cars are everywhere I look! I guess in the grand scheme, of things, a eleven year old car is not really that old, now that I put it in writing. My car is a 2013.
    Who thought to drive around and take photos of grocery stores? And why? (just curious)

  2. PTFloridians

    July 10, 2020 at 9:00 am

    I used to work for all the local (and not so local) ACMEs, in the late 80s and 90s. This is an interesting snapshot of the grocery landscape at that time.
    …FYI, the Koval and Sninski of the BGs Pine Grove, are two ex-ACME guys that collabo-d on that deal, and have done well, and have been there quite awhile.
    …there’s only so many “slices” of the grocery-business pie, and it looks like WEIS is cutting its way out, by its weighing in on political and social “justice” matters…it’s sad…just sell groceries, be nice to customers and shut up. Nobody wants fanatical fringe wackos infiltrating your stores anyway…it only leads to unrest and disorder, that hurts business.

    • PTFloridians

      July 10, 2020 at 9:15 am

      ACME operated under the banner of these 4 titles, after the Penn-Traffic acquisition…
      …Insalaco Markets, P&C Food Markets, Riverside Markets or Bi-Lo Foods.

    • Canary Commenter

      July 10, 2020 at 9:19 am

      FWIW, we heard the rumors about Weis Markets are not true.

      Regardless, Acme stores had that unmistakable look. That mid-century style is really hot right now. Many of them in the area have been renovated but took away all the character of those Acme shops.

      And BGs is a fantastic local grocery store. You’re right. It’s a tough business. Going to be difficult to find someone to take a gamble on opening in downtown Pottsville. BG’s is one possibility, certainly.

  3. Kyle Andrew Schu

    November 26, 2020 at 1:59 pm

    Hello We Also Had TJ Bart’s Food Markets From 1997 To 1999 Owned By The Bart Brothers Out Of Easton PA They Open Up When The Acme & Insalacos BiLo Foods Stores Closed I Remember There Homemade Egg Custer Pie Fresh Bake Daily To Only PA Coal Region Supermarket Chain Who Carry Boar’s Head Lunch Meat To Huge Wooden Barrel Of Fresh Dill Pickles And There Store Made Potato’s Wedges Where The Best Off Hot Food Bar Thanks All 🙂

    • Canary Commenter

      November 27, 2020 at 12:06 am

      Where was TJ Bart’s located? Remember it but can’t place it.

      • Ryles

        November 27, 2020 at 11:19 am

        Frackville, former Anthony’s, now Boyers.

  4. marketreportblog

    June 29, 2021 at 11:11 pm

    Great pictures! As you say, Bi-Lo and Insalaco’s were both owned by Penn Traffic, which acquired nearly all of the former ACME stores in northeastern PA in the 90s. Absolutely wonderful to see the stores at this moment in history. Cressona, Tamaqua, and Ashland were all ACMEs that became Insalaco’s stores (and, remarkably, all of those in these pictures show Insalaco’s banners affixed over the 1980s red-oval ACME logo). The picture of Pine Grove ACME / BG’s is no less remarkable, as we can see the 1960s ACME sign frame still fully intact but simply replaced with glass. Those frames were apparently structurally vital to the front wall, making it more feasible to simply construct cosmetic walls in front of and behind the main front wall to hide, instead of remove, the old ACME sign.

    I’m intrigued by the sign on the Boyer’s in Shenandoah, which I can’t quite read. Boyer’s would’ve been IGA-affiliated at the time (see Schuykill Haven) but that doesn’t look like the IGA nor the Boyer’s logo. Both Shenandoah and Schuykill Haven were built in the 1960s as A&P stores.

    I’ve got a question that’s been circling around since I visited Berger’s Market (which is now a Boyer’s) back in 2019. The decor inside, at least at the time, was nearly identical to the White Haven Market in White Haven… which itself was a 1950s-era ACME, too. I had assumed that White Haven mostly left ACME’s 1970s decor up and just painted it, but I didn’t believe that Berger’s was ever an ACME (especially with the 1960s-era store, now BG’s, so close). Was it? Or is it possible that Berger’s brought in the decor from the ACME at the time of some later renovation? Or is the decor just a generic design sold by a warehouse to independent store owners? Of course, I might be the only one who thinks about these things, but I will appreciate any input!

    Once again, thanks for sharing these wonderful pictures.

  5. Connie williamson

    February 11, 2023 at 3:56 pm

    I recently found old Grape Juice Bottles in our home that labels read Schuykill Valley
    Grocery Store, Bridgeport, PA some are Welch’s ..some are Norris Fancy grape juice..not sure if I should save them or throw them out…any info would be greatly apreciated

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