It's back to work today, but we hope all of you who celebrate had your Easter time needs met yesterday ...

Black and white image of a 5&10 cent store window decorated for Easter.

It's back to work today, but we hope all of you who celebrate had your Easter time needs met yesterday, whether that meant getting the cake of your heart's desire, 25-cent brassieres, a new treat, or simply a lunch for less. 

This ca. 1933 photograph is part of Hagley Library's collection of G.C. Murphy Company store windows and interior photographs (Accession 1995.247). The small collection documents window displays and a few interior images of a G.C. Murphy store in Washington, D.C.

G.C. Murphy Co. was a chain of discount variety stores. George Clinton Murphy (1868-1909) founded the G.C. Murphy Co. in 1906 in McKeesport, Pennsylvania. Murphy had been an executive with J.G. McCrory (also known as McCrory's Stores), a chain of five and dime stores, before opening up his own store.

After Murphy's death, two former McCrory executives, John S. Mack (1880-1940) and Walter C. Shaw (1883-1951), purchased Murphy's small chain of G.C. Murphy Co. stores in 1911. They quickly made it a profitable business as 5c-10c-25c stores. Soon more Murphy stores appeared as they expanded to new areas or bought smaller competitors. Despite the Depression, the company grew, and soon there were 181 Murphy stores in eleven states. Following World War II, the number of stores increased through acquisitions in the Midwest and South.

By 1976, Murphy's seventieth anniversary, the company operated 529 stores. Efforts to keep the company independent were not successful, and Ames Department Stores Inc. of Rocky Hill, Connecticut, purchased the G.C. Murphy Co. in 1985. In 1989, the Murphy's variety store division of Ames was sold to E-II Holdings, by then the parent company of McCrory Stores.

Carrying massive debt as the result of several complicated stock transactions in the 1980s and 1990s and overextended on credit, McCrory Corp. filed for bankruptcy in 2001 and liquidated a short time later.

To view this collection online now in our Digital Archive, just click here!