Musser’s Market History 1925 – Present
Abner Sr. and Esther Musser moved to The Buck on a cold April 1st 1925. With them they brought children Abner Jr., John, Ruth and Ben. As this story unfolds the I, we and our, will be referring to the four children of Abner and Esther.
Our Uncle Paul Musser, while helping to move us to The Buck, went past The Buck to Bethesda before seeing directions. Consequently he had to reverse and come back to The Buck. Thus was born the Musser’s slogan-”Don’t Pass The Buck” shop at Musser’s.
The Buck store at that time was a typical country store. There was more shelf and floor space devoted to dry goods and hardware than to groceries. Our store had bulk crackers but not in a barrel. We had the cartwheel cheese and molasses (of syrup) in the barrel.
Sugar was in 100lb bags only and had to weighed out in the lesser quantities. Cookies, candy, dry fruit, dried beans, were not pre-packed as today. We had a whole showcase full of penny candy. That looked pretty good to 5 and 7 year old boys and girls!!
Dad Musser, being of a progressive nature established our store as a semi-self service operation about 1932. From that time on changes were being made constantly it seems.
Our store, as were most stores of the early era, was a gathering point for local farmers and their hired hands. There were many checkers experts and champion 500 players. Music was provided by a floor model Victrola. Conversation was both fun and interesting.
World War II occupied the service of we three Musser boys and our brother-in-law Melvin (Spike) Shenk. Upon our release from the service, a partnership was formed between Abner Sr., John and Ben. Abner Jr. remained in the Air Corps for another “hitch” or in today’s term 3 years. Abner Jr. later joined the partnership in the 1950’s.
The Frozen Food Locker was built in 1946. With this was added sales of frozen food and fresh meat. Ben managed this department. By this time the original store was nearly 100% self service. And the original slaughtering operation was added to the locker in 1949.
On April 15th 1952 Musser’s opened a feed mill and feed business. This operation was operated for 19 years by John Musser and was sold to Red Rose Feed Service, September 1st 1971. Peak tonnage of commercial feed (Red Rose) during these years was 1070 tons.
In July 1957 Abner Sr., Abner Jr., Ben and John opened the new store right behind the original store as shown in this picture to the right. The original store was tore down to make room for the parking lot in 1958. The second store was built in front of the Locker so it would be all under one roof. The new store was 7, 840 square feet. It cost $100,000.00 to build and boasted that it would be the first completely air conditioned store in Lancaster County. The items in the store included Groceries, work clothing, paint, hardware, produce and self-service meat.
The slaughter house was updated in 1971 to comply with State Inspection requirements. At that time we were doing both custom butchering and butchering for the retail store. We continued butchering for the store and customers until 1985. We stopped butchering do to the increased regulations from the state and federal government.
By 1972 Abner Jr. and John were the surviving Mussers. Abner Sr. passed away in 1966 and Ben moving to Arizona in 1959. Abner Jr. and Ellen Musser had 4 children three sons and a daughter. Mike, Abner III (Skip) & Scott were interested in entering the business . Pat (Musser) Neff would later work for the business in 1974 and again in 2000. John & Charlotte Musser’s two daughters also interested in working for the business, Phoebe Shaubach and Rebecca Hambleton.
With the third generation showing interest in the business Abner Jr. & John decided to purchase the farm across the highway Rt 272 for future expansion in 1971. New 14,000 sq foot store construction started on Friendly Drive in 1972 to offer a larger area of groceries, in store bakery, expanded frozen food, meat department & deli department. However at this time we eliminated some hardware. In 1977 an addition was constructed on for a warehouse making the over all total footage of the store 21,600 square feet. 1987 we added a variety section to the store making the overall square footage 30,000.
Mike, Skip and Scott decided in the year of 1979 that they needed to speed up the check out lanes and they bought a brand new computerized scanning system. It was the first of its kind in Lancaster county. But after some tough years with the new system they decided to go back to hand key punching prices. It wasn’t until 1996 that computerized scanning at the registers resumed. Computerized scanning continues today.
April of 1982 Mike, Skip and Scott (know as the “Dads” from this point on) took ownership of the family
business. One year later in 1983 Mike, Skip & Scott open Musser’s Market second location in Columbia, Pa. This
location was 17,500 square feet. It was a smaller in- town store that was a perfect fit for the family business. That
store is still running today. That same year they made another large decision and opened their stores on Sundays.
With the success of Columbia, they decided in 1988 to buy another store in Stevens Pennsylvania. As the Dads continued to build their business they found a nice location in an area that was just starting to show some growth so they forged on and in 1991 decided to build a location in Mt Joy, Pennsylvania. 1n 1992 Mount Joy location opened, with the opening of this store that now made the business 4 stores strong. In 1993 grocery competition (fox’s) in Columbia took a toll on the Columbia store. With Mt Joy not producing as anticipated and it was decided to sell the Mount Joy location in 1994 as well as closing the Stevens location in 1996.
In the Summer of 1997 the 3 Dads (Mike, Skip & Scott) had a meeting on Mike’s back porch with the Fourth Generation: Greg, Michael, Abner IV (Gray), Nathan, Matt, Eric, Brian & Brent. At that meeting the Dads wanted to know if the fourth generation was interested and also serious about running the business. We all voted “yes” that one day we would like to continue to run the family business. At this point our business became very unique as there were not many family businesses 4 generations strong.
In 1997 a new business venture was started. Genuine Tobacco Co. opened the first shop in Columbia in 1997 and the second shop in Millersville in 1999. Michael Musser(4th generation) managed operation of the Smoke Shops. Genuine Tobacco shops are still running to this day and consist of fine cigars, chewing tobacco, cigarettes and lottery.
Through the late 1990’s and the early 2000’s the Dads were gracious enough to
let the, very young 4th generation, start making some business decisions in the everyday operations of the business (God bless them), yet the dads still had one last major project to do. In the year 2000 and the 4th generation committed to running the stores, the Dads decided to build a new store at the “Buck”. After some major delays with project in April of 2002, the construction started on the new state of the art 58,000 square foot building. This store featured 10 registers, fill behind cooler, high efficiency coolers and cases and a computerized refrigeration system. On a cold February 5th 2003 Musser’s Markets proudly opened their new store. After the opening of the new store we remodeled the old store into a 7 store strip mall named Musser’s Plaza.
The year 2003 was a very big year for our family there was a lot going on; we just opened our new store at the Buck, the fourth generation was slowly taking on more responsibility . The Dads also created Southern End Properties (S.E.P) which was created to manage the real estate for Musser’s Inc.
In that same year with the nod from the Dads the 4th generation decided to join The Family Owned Markets group. It was a concept that began in January of 2003 and produced their first GROUP advertising the first week of April in 2003. The Family Owned Markets consist of 8 Locally owned and operated Family Grocery Stores which included; Foodland in Lebanon, Darrenkamp’s Markets in Mount Joy and in Willow Street in the Willow Valley Square, Musser’s Markets in Quarryville and Columbia, Oregon Dairy Farm Market, John Herr’s Village Market, and Yoder’s Country Market.
And last but not least in August 2003 came an announcement that a proposed Wal-Mart was going to be built in the field across from Papa Joes on the west side of Rt.272. That was some interesting news since we just built a brand new store. To this day, July 5th 2013 it is still just a field and hopefully will stay that way for awhile.
Extreme RC Hobbies became yet another division of ours in 2006. Uncle Mike had RC items in the old Buck grocery store. We decided that there was a big enough market for RC items to open a 6000 square foot Hobby store in the newly constructed strip mall (where the old Buck store was). This is one of the larger hobby shops on the East coast. Eric Musser (4th generation) managed to operations of the Hobby division.
Currently Musser’s Plaza includes: Dollar General, Extreme RC Hobbies, Puddle Duck Creek tack shop, Dolce Vita pizza shop, Dutch Selections (Amish made furniture). Revolving Door Consignment Shop, State Representative Bryan Cutler, and Musser’s Inc Corporate office.
In 2006 the 4th generation was running the everyday operations and the 3 Dads began the operation of Southern End Properties. In 2008, the dads under S.E.P, bought the strip mall where our Columbia store is located. With S.E.P moving forward with the real estate side of things, the fourth generation had some plans to run past the Dads as well. So on a sunny day in November of 2008 we had another porch board meeting with the Dads to talk to them about buying another store.
The store we were interested in was the Redner’s located 2 miles east of the Columbia Store, which was in fact the store Fox’s built in 1993. With the Dads approval we bought the store January 2nd of 2009 and to everyone’s disbelief we completely remodeled the 44,000 square foot store in just under 6 weeks to have a grandopening February 21st 2009. We now refer to this store at Musser’s Mountville.
In 2011 we had a Front Porch Board Meeting at Brian’s house and we started another business called I.T. Alignment Group. It is a computer management company that provides the following services for businesses and schools:
• Information technology analysis, strategy, and design
• Server management
• Around the clock security monitoring and unmatched protection
• Network design, continuous maintenance, and support
• Ongoing consultation
• On-site maintenance and support
• Remote monitoring and support
• Database management and integrity
• Spam filtering services
• Unmatched anti-virus protection
• Desktop/Server/Application Virtualization
Greg Musser (4th generation) is in charge of overseeing I.T. Alignment Group, with 3 full time employees.
The year of 2012 turned out to be another big year for Musser’s Inc. We were approached by the Monahan family in April of 2012 for interest in buying their 35,000 square foot store in Lebanon Pennsylvania. With another famous Porch Board Meeting at Scott’s house and big nod from the Dads, We bought Foodland in Lebanon on August 19th 2012. Grand Opening as Musser’s on March 11th 2013.
This store had quite the history as well. It started with the Peiffer family back in 1950 on 7th street in Lebanon, the Monahan’s bought it from Peiffers in 1983. The Monahan’s then built a new store in 1987 on Quentin Road in Lebanon and grand opening was in November 9th. Hopefully our family can keep the deep rooted tradition of a family owned market in Lebanon.
As of October 1st 2012 the 4th generation now owns the family business. This process started back 15 years ago at the “first” Porch Board Meeting with the dads looking at us saying “are you interested”.