Berkenstock Store – “Berky’s”

If you grew up in Sinking Spring during the 40s, 50, 60s, or 70s you probably remember Berkenstock’s Store, or just called it, “Berky’s” or “Fern’s”*. It opened August 1st 1941. The people who have mentioned it to me specifically remember it being a candy store and calling it Berky’s. There is absolutely no information about this place on the web, but I did some sleuthing to find some information about who ran this store. What I had was a last name, location and an idea of a timeframe of when this store was in operation.

*Apparently some called it Fern’s, I have added this info after the original release of the article

Berkenstock Store
David Berkenstock on the front porch of Berky’s – photo courtesy of Kory Angstadt

Berkenstock Store was located on the corner of Columbia and Hull Street, 101 S. Hull Street. Just caddy-corner from the Sinking Spring School grounds, making it easy for students to walk there for candy. I found record in the 1940 census of a Berkenstock Family who lived at that address. I knew it was a lady who ran this store, so I figured it had to be one of the daughters. It ended up being Fern Berkenstock.

At first I thought it might be Ethel but my sources said it was definitely Fern. I found Ethel in her 1946 senior yearbook from Sinking Spring High. I wasn’t able to find Fern in any of the mid-late 30s Sinking Spring yearbooks. Perhaps she didn’t go to high school, not surprising or out of the ordinary, many in that time didn’t.

Berkenstock Store

I was able to find that Fern passed away in 2000. Her obituary was in the April 1st, 2000 Reading Eagle. It mentions her owning the store and gave the definitive time of operations, from 1940-1986. She was married at some point and her last name changed to Eyrich.

I would love to see and share some images of Berky’s if anyone has them. Any added info would also be appreciated. People remember this place fondly and I would love to bring it back to them. If you have any memories of the store please share them in the comments.

Berkenstock Store
1958 Aerial of Columbia Ave and Hull St Intersection where Berky’s operated

Born and raised in Berks, I am fascinated by the style, design & culture of the mid-late 20th century. I started this website to research and build a collection of the places, things and stories I have heard about my entire life. Read more here.

10 Replies to “Berkenstock Store – “Berky’s””

  1. I remember Berky’s! I loved going there after school and picking out penny candy. You could get a lot for a nickel or a dime. I still remember the smell that greeted you upon entering – the smell of penny candy. I also remember being there buying candy when the Pittsburgh Pirates won the World Series – not sure of the year but everyone cheered. The owner had a tv on in the room next to the candy store.

    1. Hi Susan – I am Ethel Berkenstock’s grandaughter. I loved visiting your grandmom, “Aunt Fern” as we called her. She was so kind and always at the end of our visit she’d give us each a little brown bag to fill to top with whatever we wanted. She was older and had a hard time getting around but I can still picture her saying “Now wait, now wait” as she slowly went behind the counter to smile as filled us up!!

      My Grandmom Ethel Berkenstock (Fern’s sister, David and Stella Berkenstock’s daughter) is 94 and lives over in Kenhorst. She is sharp as a tack and shows no signs of slowing down.

  2. I remember Fern’s! We lived in the block of Hull Street, and sometimes mom would send us to the store for her. We got lucky when we got to spend the pocket change on penny candies there. Just holding onto that little brown paper bag filled with childhood delights were the best ever! Fern was a kind woman. I think it was she who first introduced me to swedish fish! (it was fun to trade with my sisters, too!)

  3. The booklet put together by Paul and Kathy Miller of the Sinking Spring Area Historical Society for the borough’s 100th anniversary several years ago has this to say: “The store was started August 1, 1941, by David and Stella Berkenstock and was known as Rusty’s or Berkie’s store. Mr. Berkenstock had previously worked for the Sinking Spring Foundry. Here they conducted a general merchandise, grocery and confectionary store and are remembered by the children of the area for its penny candy. David died in 1946 and the business was carried on by his wife and daughter, Fern Eyrich. Stella passed away in 1970 and Fern continued to operate the store until retired in the fall of 1987.”

  4. I went to Wilson High and graduated with Jack in 1965. I did not know his name was James, as we always called him Jack. Fern was his mother and they lived a few doors down on Hall St. Fern’s mother lived at the store in side room. I lived on Penn Ave where the Dunkin Donuts is now and walked past Berky’s to Sinky Elementry. Stopped in there every day on way home. They had A-Treat sodas and loved black cheery.

Leave a Reply