The Kings Gap General Store that closed in 2017 reopened late last year under new ownership.
The store is a local institution at 1155 Pine Road in Dickinson Township that first opened in 1894. It was put up for auction in 2017 by Debby and Robert Stone, who operated it for more than 30 years.
The new owner, Debra Schock, frequently shopped at the general store when she was growing up and has a nostalgic bond with it. She said that a lot of people in the Carlisle area share this sentiment. “Everybody came out here when we were kids,” she said.
Schock is working to respect the store’s history. She moved some stuff around and added a fresh coat of paint, but mostly kept everything the same.
The walls are still adorned with vintage Coca-Cola and gasoline adverts, as well as antique houseware, and the 1920s-era drink coolers still work fine.
The shelves are stocked with a range of necessities, including flour, batteries, hot dog buns and ketchup. Sandwiches and hamburgers are available at a deli station, where a grill has been installed.
A bulletin board in the back of the store is covered with photos of past customers proudly holding up deer and bear they hunted at Kings Gap State Park. Customers have been coming to look at their old photos.
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Schock’s daughter, Mykayla Miller, runs the deli station. Miller said one man recently came in searching for a picture of his son with the first deer he ever shot. His son had recently died.
“This store is more about memories than anything,” Schock said.
In that vein, they sell old-school candies, including Sugar Daddy Caramel pops, Zotz, Mallo Cups and Reed’s hard candies.
Schock was inspired by her time working at Shoney’s, a diner that once stood nearby on Walnut Bottom Road. She said that there, the owners treated everyone like family and “it made you feel good just walking in the door.”
“I have always wanted a place like that,” she said. “This store is that place.”
Though she felt “terrified” when she and her family first opened the store in October, she said she feels like she has an entire community supporting her, and that makes her happy.
“On paper I may own it, but in reality I just run it,” Schock said. “The community owns it. There are the most amazing people that live in this area. Without them, I would not be here. We are like family.”