END OF AN ERA
Coatesville Army & Navy store owner to retire late next month
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.