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.

Nichols Discount City

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.


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.

19 Replies to “Nichols Discount City”

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

    1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

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

  4. 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😊

  5. 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!

  6. 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.

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