php hit counter Didn't you used to be........?

Didn't you used to be........?

A look at conversions of retail establishments around the Harrisburg, PA area

Thursday, April 27, 2006



This one has bugged me for awhile, and I look to you, the reader, for help.

What was this in its previous life???

I want to say Roy Rogers, but I'm not sure. This drives me nuts every time I drive by it!


Any grocery store geek ought to be able to spot this one a MILE away simply by the shape of the building.

Now known as "Shoppes of Hampden", this, more than 20 years ago, was an A&P. As a matter of fact, it was the first place that I ever got to play a Pac-Man machine (kicking off my obsession with video games, which lasts to this day).

The A&P moved out of there in the mid '80s, a little further down the Carlisle Pike into a new shopping center, where it became a Super Fresh. The Super Fresh closed in the early 2000's in that location, where it now houses a Karns Foods. The only Super Fresh in this area is in Newberry, a short trip south of Harrisburg off Route 83.


In the Harrisburg area, there have been three grocery store chains that have been dominant for awhile now. Weis Markets is one, Giant Food (based in nearby Carlisle!) is another, and Karns Foods (known for their delicious meats) is another one. There have been a few other chains that tried their hand in the area, only to fail. Food Lion was one of them, and Festival Foods is the other.

On this blog, you'll see some conversions of Festival Foods from time to time (and on Weis Project, you can see one that was converted into a Weis). This one, however, was never converted into anything. Very recognizable by the multicolored front, I've been waiting for something to fill its shoes, but it never has yet.


This is one of those restaurants in which you can definitely tell what it used to be - a few ownerships ago, actually.

This restaurant up until recently was open as "Koi", a Vietnamese Cuisine restaurant. I was never to it, but a co-worker of mine was, and I think I get the idea of why it didn't last, from what he told me. "$5.00 will get you enough food to take home in most Vietnamese restaurants," he told me, "In this place it won't get you anything". If the prices are too high, people won't come. Apparently no one came here.

It was a Chinese restaurant before Koi, and before THAT, it was (as you can tell, most likely!) a Ponderosa Restaurant.


Our first look is at "Cinema Center", a multiplex on Simpson Ferry Road in Camp Hill that is about a year old by now, although it took a better part of a year to build. Looking at this, you would never know what it was in its former life, which was a part of the "Hills" department store chain. This was the first one I ever remembered going to - I remember them having fireworks on the 4th of July in the '70s!

When Hills went belly-up in the early/mid '90s, their stores were either shut down, or converted to the "Ames" department store chain. Ames themselves then bit the dust, and this building sat vacant until it was gutted and rebuilt as the Cinema Center.

As far as West Shore multiplexes go, this was not the first in the area - that honor goes to the movies at the Capital City Mall, a very short drive from this theater. The "123 Cinema 456", as the sign said, was up from the mall's inception in 1974 until late 2004, when it shut down to make way for the mall's food court, which moved from one part of the mall to the other.


And today, the blog opens with some pictures of retail establishments.

First, a few words.

I found in going out today to take pictures, I wanted to pull over and take anything and everything that came to me! If I do that, I'm going to run out of time very quickly. So, I'm going to limit it to anywhere from 3-5 pictures a post. I will try my best to post weekly, so I don't run out of stuff quicker. But, I've got a virtual treasure trove of places to capture. Some I came across today that I thought would be good for the blog will come in future editions.

I'm going to be snapping pictures of former retail stores, supermarkets, and restaurant chains. What you will NOT see here, however, are any former Weis Market grocery stores. The reason for this is because I will defer to my colleague Adam for pictures of those, in which he's done a terrific job. I'll be adding his link to my links on this page, but until I do, you can visit his awesome website at - lots of good info!

And now, let the fun begin!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006


Welcome, thank you for coming here! As retail establishments say, this website is "COMING SOON".

I've been fascinated with retail since I was a small child, particularly in the Harrisburg area, where I've seen a fair share of establishments come and go over the years. I'll be sharing pictures with you of places, some easy to recognize (hence the title, "Didn't you used to be.......?"), some you would never guess they were something else in a former life.

I'll be all over the area. West Shore (Mechanicsburg, Camp Hill), East Shore (Harrisburg, Colonial Park), snapping pictures and sharing them with you.

Additionally, if you have any pictures of any old retail establishments around Harrisburg, I'd love to put them here! I am going to try to get some pictures in the next day or so to put up.

Again, welcome! The best is yet to come.