One woman said she and her mother made a weekly shopping trip to Phar-Mor for years.
By SHERRI L. SHAULIS
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- The pharmacies are brightly lighted, but bars cover the counter areas.
Entire sections of shelves are blocked off by yellow tape. Few people are lining the aisles, despite the banners proclaiming sale prices.
As the final days of Phar-Mor tick away -- closing dates are still not being released by Hilco Liquidators -- loyal shoppers are getting a few "power buys" before moving on to new shopping locations.
"This was my store," said Carol Gross of Niles. "I really hate to see this place go."
Gross was one of a handful of shoppers in the Niles Phar-Mor -- one of the first locations for the discount superstore -- searching for bargains.
When Phar-Mor opened, it brought with it the promise of a variety of items at affordable prices. Mass quantities -- everything from paper products and pencils to potato chips and purses -- were bought by the company and sold to the public at discount prices.
Phar-Mor tried to be everything to all people. Instead of stopping at various locations for prescriptions, shampoo and a bag of snacks, shoppers found them all in one location.
Other stores, like Wal-Mart, Kmart and Target, did essentially the same things but not always at the same prices. And, Phar-Mor was born and bred in the Mahoning Valley.
Carolyn Milkovich of Howland, who was shopping at the Niles location with her 5-year-old son Andy, said she started shopping at Phar-Mor stores when she was in junior high school.
"I'm kind of sad to see it go," she said as she wandered the aisles in search of items to stock up. She plans to continue getting the best value for her dollar at places like Kmart and Target but isn't sure she will find some of the deals like she did at Phar-Mor.
As Phar-Mor on Belmont Avenue readies to close, Youngstown resident Evelyn McLendon will see a family tradition disappear.
"My mother and I made a point of coming here to shop every Saturday for years," she said, watching her mother push a cart a few feet in front of her. The two were looking over seasonal items that were listed at 50 percent off.
McLendon, who admitted she was simply "impulse-buying now; and most of this I will probably put back," said she plans on doing her grocery shopping at the local Sparkle Market, rather than following most of the crowds to Giant Eagle.
"I really don't want to go those few extra blocks to go to Giant Eagle," she said. "And it's just so huge."
Christine Barry of Liberty, also shopping in the Liberty store, said she too would not shop at Giant Eagle, saying she feels like people are paying extra at the grocery chain for the atmosphere.
"I just can't afford to shop there," she said. "I guess I'll stick with places like Save-A-Lot and IGA. I really would rather not go to Giant Eagle."