Coatesville Army & Navy store owner to re­tire late next month

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - BUSINESS - By Brian McCul­lough bm­c­cul­lough@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @wc­dai­ly­lo­cal on Twit­ter

For more than 90 years there’s been an Army & Navy store in the city run by a Skol­nik.

Next month, that three­gen­er­a­tion run will come to an end.

Judy Skol­nik, who took over the store from her fa­ther Martin Skol­nik about 20 years ago and who has worked in it for 38 years, is re­tir­ing.

The store was started by Judy Skol­nik’s grand­fa­ther, Mor­ris Skol­nik, on South First Av­enue around 1926. The fam­ily lived in an apart­ment be­hind the store, Judy Skol­nik re­called last week as cus­tomers pe­rused the clear­ance-sale of­fer­ings in the down­town store now lo­cated in the 200 block of East Lin­coln High­way.

The build­ing is for sale, Judy Skol­nik said, and the store will close Nov. 22 if no one makes a cred­i­ble of­fer on the busi­ness in the next few weeks.

The de­ci­sion to move on was a dif­fi­cult one for Skol­nik, who grew up in the city and was a mem­ber of one of the first classes to grad­u­ate from Coatesville Area Se­nior High School.

“I still live in the area and am in­volved in some of the clubs and or­ga­ni­za­tions that are Coatesville-ori­ented,” said Skol­nik, 65. “I will stay in­volved in the com­mu­nity in some fash­ion.”

Among Skol­nik’s vol­un­teer

“I do re­gret I won’t be here to see the re­bound of Coatesville. I def­i­nitely see it hap­pen­ing.” – Judy Skol­nik, owner, Coatesville Arnmy & Navy

or­ga­ni­za­tions now and over the years: the Coatesville Ro­tary, Coatesville Busi­ness and Pro­fes­sional As­so­ci­a­tion, the Coatesville Christ­mas Pa­rade Com­mit­tee and the Coatesville YWCA.

Ac­knowl­edg­ing the de­ci­sion to re­tire was “some­what im­pul­sive,” Skol­nik said she made it after sev­eral friends un­ex­pect­edly passed away. The friends had talked for years about get­ting to­gether for trips but never got the chance.

“I wanted to spend more time with fam­ily and friends,” she said. “It was time to open the next chap­ter of my life.”

To step into the store is to step back into a time when Main Street stores were the pri­mary places for con­sumer pur­chases. Stuffed to rafters, the stock in­cludes win­ter coats, dress and ca­sual shirts and pants, jeans, jack­ets, work boots and Con­verse sneakers, fa­tigues, hunt­ing vests, Scout uni­forms and sup­plies, school uni­forms, Red Raider gear, duf­fel bags, packs, pa­ja­mas, bathrobes, sweat pants and shirts, sweaters, work cov­er­alls, dress hats, socks and un­der­wear, and plenty more. The store also does its own print­ing and hem­ming.

“It’s a very unique mer­chan­dise mix,” Skol­nik said. “The Red Raider gear was the most pop­u­lar. We have been lucky to have held our own in a chang­ing mar­ket­place.”

Main Street stores have been un­der pres­sure for years, Skol­nik said, first from malls and dis­count chain stores, and now from on­line re­tail­ers.

“We were lucky to have a client base that val­ued per­son­al­ized ser­vice,” she said. “We wait on each cus­tomer that comes into the store.”

Skol­nik said she is aware some peo­ple will say her clos­ing the store is a set­back for Coatesville as it tries to re­vi­tal­ize its busi­ness district. The city’s naysay­ers are wrong, she said.

“I do re­gret I won’t be here to see the re­bound of Coatesville,” Skol­nik said. “I def­i­nitely see it hap­pen­ing. We are no dif­fer­ent than any other down­town Main Street. It is just tak­ing a lit­tle longer than some (for re­vi­tal­iza­tion to take hold), but it is hap­pen­ing.

“It doesn’t hap­pen overnight but all of the pre­lim­i­nary work is com­pleted,” she added. “You’re al­ready see­ing some new busi­nesses that are open­ing here, and in two to five years you will see a lot more.”


The Coatesville Army & Navy store will close in late Novem­ber after 90 years in busi­ness if no of­fers are made to the owner who is re­tir­ing.

Judy Skol­nik says the Coatesville Army & Navy store will close after 90 years in busi­ness if she re­ceives no cred­i­ble of­fers by late Novem­ber.

The Coatesville Army & Navy store has been a fix­ture in the city for 90 years.


Aus Mar­burger tries on a jacket at the Coatesville Army & Navy store. “It’s my first time here; I wish I had heard of it be­fore,” he said.

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