Sunday, January 16, 2011

Pechins

Pechin's supermarket is hard to explain to anyone who has never been there. Most of us occasionally refer to two separate versions of Pechin's: Old Pechin's or New Pechin's, although New Pechin's has been around for just long enough now that Old Pechin's is pure nostalgia. Plus it burned down after the move. Old Pechin's was in Dunbar, with outdoor stores, a bad parking lot, and a leaky roof. New Pechin's is right along 119 in a Shop 'N' Save that didn't last and is in better condition, but is just as crowded and cheap as ever.

The prices are mainly what makes the store's reputation, and are probably why it's always busy. Fayette County has plenty of grocery stores, including at least two Wal-Marts, but no one can beat Pechin's. In fact, because of their prices, Pechin's made the front page of the Wall Street Journal in 1984 (the text of the article is here) and the National Enquirer - three times, for having 19-cent hamburgers, although I can't find the original articles.

Pechin's prices are also important to note because as of 2008, Fayette County's poverty rate was considered critical, at 16.9%. And it's common knowledge for residents that the beginning of each months means welfare and Social Security checks are out, and businesses are extremely crowded - which is also mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article. It's a pretty sad fact of life here when you think about it, but most of us are so used to it that we don't. Which is also sad.

But there is more to Pechin's than that. Like their amazing cakes, and the very interesting stories and nearly daily texts I get from a friend of mine who works there. Lately she's been complaining about the country music constantly playing in the store, but yesterday was her last day for the semester. So for a little while, she's free, but my days are a little less bright now.

Luckily, I save the best texts. Like the one a few summers ago about a man who noticed her peace sign tattoo, motioned to his own, called her a "fellow child of peace," told her to "keep rolling on with it, 'cause before you know your day has floated past and you're on a new one" and left her by saying, "Keep on spreading the peace."

Actually, things like that are pretty rare here.

14 comments:

  1. My dad used to take me to the old Pechins when I was little. We went to the cafeteria they had there all the time. I LOVED their mashed potatoes. There were a lot of hobos there, though...

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  2. 19-cent hamburgers? As they say on the Internets - OMG.

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  3. I remember the 19-cent hamburgers. My brothers moreso than I joke about how our grandparents used to go there, and how it probably isn't healthy that you could literally eat a three course meal there for around one dollar...ahh Pechins...talk about nostalgia.

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  4. My husband has talked about Pechins for years and I always thought he made it up. The dirt floors and 19-cent hamburgers for instance. But oh Pechins! You're real! You're really real!

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  5. my big brother ate there when he was little with a friend and he came home and told mother about the hamburgers and she didnt believe him.

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  6. I'm pretty sure they're still 19 cents, too. I can ask around.

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  7. Do they even still have a cafe? I know they have the fire house and the little quick mart thing

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  8. I'm not sure. I think they kept all their features from before, except some is out in the Laurel Mall now instead. Which needs its own post.

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  9. My mother made me bathe when we got home from the Old Pechin's (granted, I only remember going there about 3 times total)... not unlike how she made me bathe when we would get home from Kennywood. I distinctly remember the dirt floors, the towering of boxes of mac and cheese, and the cracks in the partial wooden floor where you could see the "crick" running under the store.

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  10. I remember when they brought out the meat in buggies and everyone fought over it.. one time I witnessed a fight between two old ladies over a steak. (the meat was so cheap that they couldnt keep it on the shelves so they brought it out in shopping carts that we call 'buggies' here in Western Pa.

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  11. Me and my friends used to go there every year during Deer season. We coined the phrase, "pechins, a crick runs through it". A reference to the creek that runs under the market. I could not wait to go back each year, and made a few additional trips. I told my girlfriend, now my wife, I was taking her out for a nice dinner. I'll never forget the look on her face.

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  12. It was always a real trip to go from Greene Co. once a mon. to Pechins for our savings and lunch. One day a week seniors got a % off their meal so my Mom and Dad ate for under a dollar. You'd have to wait your turn to get fried bread dough. Yes, there were buckets to catch the rain and the wobbly floor made it hard to push your buggie. If you were lucky enough to get the t-bones from lady behind meat counter or out of her buggie, you could not leave your cart unguarded or they would be stolen. It all sounds so funny now but it is all true. One day my husband saw a couple of kids sitting there sharing food so he asked them what kind of ice cream cone they would like, so cheap, and when he turned around there were at least 6 kids standing there for a treat.After eating you could go to different small shops.One for boots, one for jeaans,etc. So on the day to go to Pechins, 30 miles for groceries, was planned in advanced was always fun for all !!!!

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  13. While living in Dawson, PA in the late 70's we played basketball for hours at the local BB court. Our halftime break would be taking a collection and sending someone to Old Pechins for burgers. We sometime ordered 50 at a time. I seem to remember them being around 10 cents each back then. They were small but you could make up for that with quanity!

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  14. I remember it growing up driving from Herminie to Dunbar for 19 cent burgers. I bought a pair of work boots there in 1986 and still have them after 3 resoles they still fit and are still in good shape.

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