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For the Love of Murphy's: The Behind-the-Counter Story of a Great American Retailer

Overview

Five-and-ten stores were immensely popular during the middle of the twentieth century, selling cheap, dependable goods to people from all walks of life. Now the product of a bygone era, these stores were revolutionary in their time, but few today appreciate how important they were in creating our present-day consumer culture. In this sensitive yet honest look at one of the best-known chains of five-and-tens, Jason Togyer traces the history of the G. C. Murphy Company, ...
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Overview

Five-and-ten stores were immensely popular during the middle of the twentieth century, selling cheap, dependable goods to people from all walks of life. Now the product of a bygone era, these stores were revolutionary in their time, but few today appreciate how important they were in creating our present-day consumer culture. In this sensitive yet honest look at one of the best-known chains of five-and-tens, Jason Togyer traces the history of the G. C. Murphy Company, headquartered in McKeesport, Pennsylvania.
Though not the largest chain, nor the first, Murphy's is remembered today as a commercial trailblazer—a corporation run with honesty and integrity, and, at its peak, a retailer whose more than five hundred stores managed to outsell those of the giant F. W. Woolworth Company by a factor of three to one. Making extensive use of both the company archives and anecdotes from former employees and customers, McKeesport native Togyer re-creates with outstanding detail the world in which the G. C. Murphy Company emerged; its survival and growth during the Great Depression; its response to a strained economy during World War II; its fight against rapidly expanding competitors, such as Kmart; its struggle and recovery in the 1970s; and its unsuccessful battle to stave off Wall Street raiders in the 1980s.
Though modern-day shoppers may not know the Murphy name, they know its legacy. From its adventurous selling tactics to its strict code of corporate ethics, the G. C. Murphy Company should be remembered not as a dusty relic, but as a pioneer in the American business world.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780271033716
  • Publisher: Penn State University Press
  • Publication date: 12/25/2012
  • Series: A Keystone Book ?
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 292
  • Sales rank: 701,303
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 10.40 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Jason Togyer is managing editor of The Link, the magazine of Carnegie Mellon University's School of Computer Science.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

1 Bethel Park, 1970 1

2 A Revolution in Retailing 8

3 The Macy's of Appalachia 27

4 Can You Spare a Dime? 45

5 The Murphy Girls 63

6 At War at Home and Abroad 81

7 Meals at Murphy's 97

8 The Fabulous Fifties 112

9 The Pride of the Chain 135

10 McKeesport Yankees in Dixieland 152

11 Determination and Diversion 167

12 Happy Holidays 189

13 Home Runs and a Few Errors 202

14 Triumph and Trial 226

15 Aftermath and Legacy 250

Notes on Sources 261

Photo Credits 271

Index 272

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 31, 2009

    Mix of nostalgia & business history

    I don't know what the other reviewer is TALKING about .... I don't think they actually READ the book!!

    First, McKeesport is all through this book! ... Second, EMPLOYEES are all through this book! There's one whole chapter about the "Murphy Girls" & another one about the "Home Office" ... & the last chapter is all about different charities supported by G. C. Murphy Co ... including pix of the Pittsburgh Food Bank and the Larosa Boys Club.

    And chap. 13 has a BUNCH of stuff about the McK. warehouse & there's also at least 2 pictures inside the warehouse.

    Anyway --- I wish the book had more & bigger pictures and some color pictures would be nice. BUT ... this is a fun book to READ ...

    Lots of personal stories from Murphy employees & customers are spread all through the book. So this would make a nice nostalgiac gift for people who grew up going to "Murphy's" or Murphy Mart.

    But there's also a message in the book about how companies can get into trouble (the chapter about the Ames take-over is depressing!).

    There's also history from the other 5&10 chains --- Woolworth, Kresge, McCrory, etc.

    Overall this is a very positive, interesting story about a VERY interesting company that people are starting to forget about! Anyone from McKeesport or anyplace else where Murphy's had a store will find lots of things to interest them. (But it needs more pictures next time!) :D

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2009

    Opinion on Love of Murphy's

    I was disappointed that not much was discussed about the McKeesport, PA and the warehouse located close to the home office. There was not much on the impact that Murphy's had on the McKeeport area, such as employment and charitable contributions. There was no listing of the staff from the home office and their duties, such as buyers and secretaries. I gave this book as a gift to someone that previously worked for G C Murphy Co. and he enjoyed reading about the the history of which he took part. He stated more should have been discussed how the employees helped to contribute to the success of the company.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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