Nichols Discount City

Nichols Discount City had three locations in Berks, one being located at  3001 St. Lawrence Ave, one on 5th Street in Muhlenberg and another in Shillington on Lancaster Ave. They are credited with being one of the first major “Drug Stores” in the mid-Atlantic, with having over 40 stores at one point in the region.

Nichols Discount City
Nichols Discount City

If you visited Nichol’s as a kid your fondest memories might be of the toy and candy isles. Or teenagers could buy 45’s for just 75 cents.

A former regional retail discount chain in the Northeast, founded in 1938 as a variety store chain in and around New York City. Nichols opened the first Nichols Discount City store in 1960 in Lancaster, Pa.. These stores ranged in size from 80,000 to 100,000 square feet and were usually located in secondary markets. In 1990, Nichols converted their stores to PharmHouse, a discount drug and housewares store.

Source

Below are some photos from inside Nichols Department store that were sent in by Ron Shurr.

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.

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Nanette B Merrill
Nanette B Merrill
4 years ago

We used to go to the Mt. Penn store. I remember shopping with my mom there all the time. Thanks for the memory.

Bob
Bob
4 years ago

I believe the Shillington Nichols had formerly been the stand alone Sears store adjacent to the Shillington Shopping Center, but I could be mistaken.

Tommy
Tommy
4 years ago
Reply to  Bob

Youre correct . it was a Sears

Carol Shipper
Carol Shipper
4 years ago
Reply to  Bob

Correct

Franklin Starkey
Franklin Starkey
1 year ago
Reply to  Bob

Bob, You are right. It now is a Giant store. When that shopping center was built in early 60’s, Sears moved from downtown Reading (south side of Penn, between 4th and 5th st.) to there. I loved their Lionel train setup at Christmas! I bought a Silvertone 9 transistor (big deal) pocket sized radio there. Sears remained there until 1970 when they moved to Berkshire Mall.

James F Schifalacqua
James F Schifalacqua
4 years ago

What a coincidence! Last night I was rummaging through old family slides, and I found bags of them that were processed at Nichols on St. Lawrence Ave in Mt. Penn. That was a great store. We’d go there for everything. They were years ahead of Kmart and Walmart.

Ron Shurr
Ron Shurr
4 years ago

I used to work at the St. Lawrence Nichols as a camera and jewelry department manager. It was a fun job. The only thing I tired of was the smell of popcorn, especially starting at opening hours and lasting until I went home. I have lots of fond memories, and a number of employee and activity pictures taken there.

Ron Shurr
Ron Shurr
4 years ago
Reply to  Alexa Freyman

I’d be happy to share the pics, send me email address and I’ll send them.

Ritchie
Ritchie
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Shurr

Can you send me pics of Nicholas discount city

Ruth
Ruth
5 months ago
Reply to  Ron Shurr

Would love some pictures, I worked at the St Lawrence store also

Franklin Starkey
Franklin Starkey
1 year ago
Reply to  Ron Shurr

Ron, my brother, David Starkey worked there at St Lawrence store in 1966 in the camera and jewelry dept

Ruth Weidner
Ruth Weidner
6 months ago
Reply to  Ron Shurr

Ron, do you know when Nichols st Lawrence opened?

Careylyn Topham
Careylyn Topham
4 years ago

I remember going to them as a kid.

John Naugle
John Naugle
3 years ago

I worked at the Shillington Nichols from about Sept. of 1985 To July of 1986 as the auto dept manager and finally as an asst. in the appliance dept. I had some good experiences there😊

Brian Z
Brian Z
2 years ago

HI there, can you tell me where the Shillington Nichols was located? They’re also talking on here about a Sears that was near it? Was that somewhere on Lancaster Ave, like maybe further east of where 724 splits off? I’m thinking maybe where the “new” Shillington Farmer’s Market is these days, the Giant, Penn Dot etc. Thank you in advance!

MC
MC
2 years ago

There was a Nichols in Wilson, NC and Greenville, NC back in the 80’s. Used to love to go there. Was pre-walmart here.

richard a johnston
richard a johnston
2 years ago

My family went to the Nichols store in Mt Penn in the 60’s when it was the first and only Nichols store in the Reading area, my dad’s mother liked it , probably why we went there a lot. Other than in the city the only other big stores at the time were Sears in Shillington (which was taken over by Nichols when Sears went to the new Berkshire Mall), Two Guys , and Boscov’s west (the original Sinking Springs store that burned). I just remembered that my dad bought me a new GE record player at the Mt Penn Nichols store around 67 / 68. It was a popular seller (the “Mustang”) which had detachable stereo speakers. A slightly lower price model (the “Wildcat”) had fixed speakers. You could play 45s or albums and stack the records 5 or 6 at a time.

John Rinck
John Rinck
1 year ago

My two ho-hum memories of Nichols: The first, not necessarily a good one, but a shady family friend was in cahoots with a cashier there (circa 1985) and would work together to steal items. She, the cashier, got caught and was fired. Second, I remember an ad Nichols ran for The Jacksons “Victory” album with the rare white dove on the front. I was tempted to go and get it, but never did.

Ronald R Shurr
Ronald R Shurr
1 year ago

THAT BRINGS BACK ANOTHER THEFT MEMORY. IN THE EARLY SIXTIES AT THE ST. LAWRENCE STORE, IN AN ADJACENT DEPARTMENT WHERE I WORKED, AN EMPLOYEE WAS CAUGHT, TOO. HE WOULD GO TO THE CASH REGISTER AND RING UP A NO SALE AND TAPE THAT ORANGE NO SALE RECEIPT UPSIDE DOWN WITH THE BLANK SIDE OF THE ORANGE RECEIPT SHOWING. THE CASHIERS IN THE FRONT LEFT THE BUYER EXIT WITHOUT QUESTION. CERTAIN DEPARTMENTS REQUIRED PAYMENT IN THEIR RESPECTIVE DEPARTMENTS TO ELIMINATE CUSTOMER THEFT AND PRICE TAG SWAPPING.

DAVID MANIX
DAVID MANIX
10 months ago

I grew up in Lancaster and remember Nichols pretty well. Right next door in the 60′;s was the Social Security admin. I still have my original SS card that I got there in 1968 or so. Didn’t use it until 1973 when I got my first job at Lancaster Carpet Mart. Will be 65 in January. God, I love the internet.
What is there now, BTW? I live in South FL now. Have not been back in many years.

Mystick
Mystick
7 months ago

I remember going to the Hanover PA location as a child in the 80’s. The town where we lived was about 20 miles away and years before any major shopping centers appeared. It was either Frederick or Hanover if we wanted to visit a “modern” department store.

Jim Ahrens - Ft Worth
Jim Ahrens - Ft Worth
1 month ago

Other than Alexa, we are bunch of old-timers who experienced how good was Berks County back in the day. Where did all the years go? Now in my 70’s.

Franklin Starkey
Franklin Starkey
1 month ago

Amen

Berks Nostalgia