Sunday, November 27, 2011

Clean up on Aisle 2! Dunbar, PA's famous Pechin's!


 Danielle, Evan and I decided to do some shopping and the Laurel Mall flea market didn't disappoint.  D found some sweet new exploration footwear as well as some Spuds McKenzie glasses.  Evan scored a Stoney's tray and just wait 'till you see the gnarly purple carpet I'm getting for the Shaggin' Wagon!



 Anyway, while we were checking out the Star Wars toys and digging on the vintage vibe of Laurel Mall, we decided to pay homage to a local shopping mecca.  A place everyone has memories of, both good and,well.... Eating in the cafeteria was a rite of passage. Feed your family for about $5...really.  This was a place where you could buy groceries, shoes, golf clubs, a gun and beer all in one place...way before Wal-Mart!



 I'm of course speaking of the legendary Pechin's Shopping Village.  Located in Dunbar, Pa. near the Fayette County Fairgrounds, Pechin's was not just a store, it was an adventure!  Founded in 1947 as Pechin Grocery by Sullivan "Sully" D'Amico in a former train depot, the place was a staple for Moms and Grandmas in the tri-state area.  Pechins was famous for low prices and infamous for being janky as hell! But thats what made it great!   There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the location of goods in the grocery store.  I think they just dropped a pallet where there was room.  Maybe it was a brilliant way to make shoppers roll the entire wooden floor in search of what they needed, picking up items as they went? Nah, probably not.  Evan recalls "old timers" telling how you could see the creek through the holes in the floor.  The buggies look as if they were patched together from different stores and you NEVER,  I MEAN NEVER, went to Pechins on the first of the month!



 Every year, we would head to 7-Springs and stop at Pechins for beer.  The challenge was to eat $5 worth of food in the cafeteria.  Keep in mind...hamburgers were 20 cents, cheeseburgers 25 cents.  I never even came close...The food was actually pretty good. If I remember... those prices lived on until the end of the original plaza.






 Following the death of Mr. D'Amico in 2005, Pechins moved to the afore mentioned Laurel Mall. Occupying the former Montgomery Wards.  The store lives on, but with much less character.  A salvage company moved into the original site not long after and began the process of clearing out the shelves, cases and fixtures.  Then, on June 6th, 2006, a fire swept through the former shopping plaza destroying most of the buildings and nearby trucks and equipment.  We grabbed some pix of whats left, which isn't much.  Share your Pechins story...cuz we know you got one!!








Found this inside the resturaunt shot online...





The two pictures below, courtesy of Jay Miller...Just look how busy, and it was always like this.





































28 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Becky McCann SextonMarch 1, 2012 at 11:18 PM

    Pechins was great! I remember the holes in the floor and seeing the stream running under the store. Water dripping into buckets from the ceiling throughout the store. No rhyme or reason to how the store was organized. The shoe store was just boxes of shoes falling off shelves around the room. I remember it seeming dark compared to today's grocery stores. The cafeteria was good too. I remember my mom and I having dinner there one day in the late 1980's and our bill was $1.20. It was an experience!

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    1. We use to go up for breakfast, shop at the stores, then grab some lunch. Great place.

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  3. I knew the people that worked at the former Pizza Outlet that was there. D'amico had 5 pizza outlet stores at one time and then converted to vocelli pizza before closing many years ago. They used to pack them in there!

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  4. I worked for them for 3 years during college, Sully was a gem! Store has half the character it used to have, miss those old days of .29 cent cheeseburgers!

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  5. When my husband's sister made her first visit to America from England we told her we were taking her to a really nice restaurant. We told her it was really nice but really laid back so you didn't really have to dress up. Then we took her to Pechin's. She actually really enjoyed the food.

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  6. Oh god, seeing the store ablaze like that just made me go "Nooooo" outloud. =(

    I remember being around 8ish and eating at Pechins. My dad said I couldn't possibly eat $5 worth of food. I made it to $4.85 and I was ready to keel over and die, I was so full.

    What a tragedy to close the restaurant. I haven't been up in over a decade so I didn't even know. Still, I'd probably head over to the store for gobs and pizelles. =( But the restaurant made everything fun.

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    1. I worked at Pechin's early to mid 1960s, starting while Sully was married to Lil. Aunt Lil is my Grandmother's sister, and a real gem she is. The store then was much smaller, and the aisle that extended over the creek was used to bring stock from the warehouse to the store. The main store entrance faced the road that was the beginning of Church Hill to the side across the railroad tracks, and near the beginning of Pechin Hill on the opposite side after crossing Dunbar Creek Bridge (as we called it). Parking was wherever you could find a spot next to the store, across the road, or on the other side of the tracks. Shoppers came from West Virginia and Ohio to shop at this then small store in SW PA. A little later on after the store was expanded to cross over the creek, and the plaza was constructed, it was really nice to get a 5 cent cup of coffee. Many years later I recall hearing an article read by the departed Paul Harvey over the airwaves.

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    2. In my mind the burgers are legendary, not just the price, but the flavor. I wish I could find out how to get ahold of those again, somebody has to still sell them.

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  7. my husband and I both worked at pechins in our late teens. He likes to tell the story of the rat that got caught in a BEAR trap bolted to the ceiling rafters!

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  8. Does anyone remember the meat carts coming through the store? My mom almost lost her arm trying to get a roast!

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  9. I have been away from that area for a while but I do remember Peachin's. Growing up in Scottdale my parents would shop there. Always an experience. I do remember seeing the water flowing through the holes in the floor. Was part of the floor dirt? We also stopped there for lunch when our daughter was attending PSU. What a treat for me to feed her and her friends for under $5.

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  10. I remember going there as a child and teen and then as a new wife and mother. We went every two weeks. I vividly remember the meat carts..it was every woman or man for themselves! I also remember having to be aggressive driving through the parking lot or you would never get a spot and the same went for finding a cart..I remember literally following people to their cars in order to ask for their buggy!

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  11. oh my word the memories. My mom took me there all the time. We didnt have a lot of money but this place made your dollar go so far! God bless Mr Damico.

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  12. I remember 5 Pechin stores: Pechin, Monarch, Collier, Ronco and Grindstone. We shopped mainly at the Collier store near Smithfield where all us kids got the worst case of poison ivy while picking apples next to the store. Also, the girls were so fast on the cash registers that they often broke or jammed them and were made to slow down by the manager. Those were the days of brown paper bags which would be doubled for canned goods.

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  13. Oh Pechins. For people who never had the blessing of knowing it, imagine New Orleans after Katrina and imagine all of the rubble being collected and nailed together to make a grocery store. I remember when the Westmoreland Mall was renovated in the mid-90's, the famous doors with the wooden handles - yellow sun - and green WM, wound up gracing the front entrance of Pechins. I would call this place salvage yard thrift store construction. I came from nothing, I shopped at Pechins, but that place really need a horror movie made about it. I feel like West Virginia should annex Fayette County and move its Capitol to the old Pechins. This place really was the Mecca of White trash. The only things it was missing was a Confederate Flag on a pole and a spittoon inside the door.

    Wait a minute, there was a storm drain in the asphalt floor once you entered... I guess people could spit in that.

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  14. I grew up in this area during the mid 60s to mid 70s. My grandparents raised me as we were regular customers of Pechin. I have fond memories of eating at the cafeteria-just try going anywhere today and finding such a grand meal for such a low price. I used to troll the aisles of the toy store while my grandparents shopped in the grocery store. I remember them having a drug store, shoe store, and a drug store as well-nothing as fancy as Walmart but still not without it's charm.
    I do have a not so good memory of the place-will probably make you laugh; I noticed people mentioning how you could see the creel through the floor-well I remember that vividly, but what "scared" me everytime we went there was the overhang to the little cliff overlooking the creek as you drove into the main entrance of the plaza; they had it scarecly blocked by some type of railing I think and it looked like it would take nothing for you to plunge over it and everytime I saw that I would get the creeps. I have a phobia of bridges and water anyway and that memory to this day creeps me out lol

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  15. Hi, I'm a 31 year Old native who was & still lives in Dunbar pa. All my life My Mom who was a Mother of 3 always took her 3 kids to pechins to grocery shop up untill 2005 when it was moved . As a child I always loved to go to pechins & for every Birthday we always went to Pechins bakery for our Birthday cakes . Pechin's is what My home town of Dunbar was known for . I sure miss that ole place & to me the old pechin's is home . I show my 3 kids pictures of pechins & tell them how I grew up going there !! I just wished Pechins stayed there & was rebuilt So all of us could have shared it & it's history with our Children & GrandChildren . Different folks in my family even neighbors use to work there & 1 of my neighbors still to this day work there. I do still go there for a few things but due to the rise of living price's went up for example . How a " Cheese burger" was 25cents now is around 60cents . I will always cheerish my great memories in which i share with my kids . I still remember going through Dunbar mountains & quad riding & on our way home we always stoped for a good Old Fashion "Pechin Burger" ,Fry, & fountain Pepsi . maybe some day someone will build one sortta like the Old pechins Super Market . Thanks for listening to my great Memory of Pechins

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  16. I remember all that and at the end of the shopping experience you would almost ALWAYS hear "CARRY OUT!"

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    1. Yes! It has only been a few days ago that I was thinking of that. I know this comment was made a couple years ago but a great memory and had to reply. One day when I was very young I was there with my parents and remember I yelled
      "Carry Out" for fun! It didn't go over well with my mother! lol

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  17. 31 year old that still checks all four corners of boxes for "rat holes". Fondly remember after our Peachin trip that scrape of the bumper pulling out on 201 in Moms Subaru wagon. I always got blamed for eating to much at the cafeteria making the car drag it's ass lol. Never did see another store with hills inside though.

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  18. I really do miss the old Pechins. I never seen such a store. It was some thing else. My mom's whole family shopped there grandmom ,aunts, uncles and cousins. I have heard stories of people fighting over ground beef and grabbing meat off the carts that went through the store. We would have to wait in line to get the ground beef ,it would get grabbed before it hit the counter.I I would take my kids to eat there when we would go shopping . And my kids go shopping at the new Pechins ,but it's just not the same .That new Firehouse Restaurant is too expensive for me. I wish they would bring back the cafeteria life the old one. At lest a family family can eat more for less. My oldest daughter loves there cheese burgers she can never get enogh of them .

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  19. I worked there in college. It was crazy and hot, but such a great experience. I don't know if many people know this, but Sully had an apartment above Pechins. That place was his life.

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  20. I worked there as a teenager pushing carts. It was a fun place to work until Sullivan died. That's when don damico took over with his son. They were known as the miserable two. They thought they where gods and owned everybody. But before that had some good memories with my brothers there.

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  21. My pap used to take me and my older siblings here for lunch everyday!

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  22. When I was a kid my friends and I would go into Pechins grocery store, pick a lane and start bagging groceries and taking them out to the shoppers cars to collect tips. Mind we didn't even work there and everyone knew it, but the let us do it anyway. Was a good way for us to make a couple of dollars.

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  23. Wow! Can't believe that Pechin's is no more :((( My Mom's whole family lived in Dunbar so when we visited, Pechin's was a anticipated adventure. My Mom would buy meat and transport it in coolers back home to DC....crazy but that how good the prices were. They made the best sausage, my mouth is watering writing about it. We would have lunch, shop, and the I'd get a big cherry vanilla ice cream cone for .25cents. I was terrified as a kid that I'd fall through the floors in the creek and be lost forever..I do remember that rickety fence that was suppose to stop you from falling in the creek by the entrance. It was frightening to pull in that entrance, always felt like the car was going to crash into the creek. Crazy things you remember as a kid lol. Thanks Pechin for all the adventures and awesome childhood memories

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