G C Murphy sign comes down, letters saved

The G.C Murphy Company was once one of the titans of the 5 & 10 trade. Not as well known as Woolworth’s or a competitor that followed, K-Mart, it nonetheless boasted more than 500 stores in the eastern U.S. One of them was along the Lincoln Highway / Penn Ave. in Wilkinsburg, Pa., and though it closed long ago, the letters remained on the facade until last week. The store was one of two in the relatively small town; this was likely one of the last G.C. Murphy Co. signs to remain intact in its original location.

Jason Togyer, who published a book about the company just this year, also runs a web site Tube City Almanac about local news and included this update recently (and loaned use of the above photo):

Targeted by corporate raiders in 1985, the G.C. Murphy Co. was taken over by Connecticut-based Ames Department Stores, which closed more than 100 of its variety stores … but the Wilkinsburg store — the 39th in the chain — was spared.

In 1989, the Wilkinsburg store and 130 others were sold by Ames to McCrory Stores Corp., which went into permanent decline in the 1990s and finally closed all of its remaining locations in 2002….

The Wilkinsburg store is now part of Brooklyn, N.Y., based Rainbow Shops Inc., a low-priced clothing chain for women and children.

Two sign companies donated the battered letters to the G.C. Murphy Co. Foundation, which hopes to restore and preverve them.

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