Shopping at Ruthfred (where?)


You have to like a development called Ruthfred Acres. Builder Fred Brown and his wife Ruth (thus the name) built it in the 1940s. It happens to be home to western Pennsylvania’s first strip mall, called Ruthfred Acres Shopping Center.

This shopping center is tiny. But it contains—as I suspect it always has contained—useful abundance. Ruthfred Food Market, ACE Miller Hardware, Supreme Cleaners, the Family Deli, Valentine’s Full-Service Salon, O’Brien’s Pharmacy. You can visit a primary care doctor, a dentist, a lawyer, even a seamstress. Adjacent is Young’s Auto Service. Across the street is Valero gas. Also across the street is Ferruzza Hair Centre, where a billboard says, “Welcome Back, Ron Baker, Master Barber.”

Ruthfred Lutheran Church is there, too.

hardware2Yesterday I stopped at Ruthfred Food Market, which was busy. In search of hand sanitizer and other miscellaneous items, I saw unexpected things: shoe laces and shoe polish, RIT dye for cloth, a candy thermometer, canning equipment. Toy handcuffs. A yoyo.

Judging from the people waiting six deep, the market has an excellent deli. But I went next door to the Family Deli to get “Our own baked ham.” People were waiting there, too.

The small satisfaction I feel when indulging in the great American consumer pastime—pretending that I save money by buying sale merchandise I don’t need—goes up in smoke compared with the satisfaction of buying useful stuff at Ruthfred Acres Shopping Center. I’ll be back.

The only pharmacy I've ever seen with a weathervane

The only pharmacy I’ve ever seen with a weathervane

11 comments on “Shopping at Ruthfred (where?)

  1. Cindy says:

    I can just imagine your little shopping center with a blanket of snow! How fortunate you are to have found this gem. and I love you have a hardware store! Those are a rare sight these days, being swallowed up now by the major chains. I remember with delight how I loved running errands with my mother when I was a little girl…..the grocer, the butcher, the pharmacy, the hardware store…where a big fat cat snoozed in the window, the resident mascot. No matter where I’ve lived over the years, I’ve taken great care to seek out the small and charming merchants. There’s just something about a place of business that knows your name….it makes you smile, your pace slows a bit, and your errands take on a relaxed quality. Yes, hometown proud…that’s the feeling I get.

  2. Lindsay Edmunds says:

    Not only do they know your name, you know theirs. It is refreshing! Part of my shopping experience now is to ask the question: can I get it at Ruthfred?

  3. [...] October I blogged about the Ruthfred Acres Shopping Center, which was built in the 1940s. In the 1940s Ruthfred Acres was surrounded by cornfields and farms, [...]

  4. [...] October I blogged about the Ruthfred Acres Shopping Center, which was built in the 1940s. In the 1940s Ruthfred Acres was surrounded by cornfields and farms, [...]

  5. I grew up right down the street from Ruthfred Shops. We used to go to O’Briens Pharmacy for their penny candy. Everyone seemed to know each other which was fun. Those were the days, and I would take them over any impersonal Walmart in a skinny moment!

  6. [...] soon I am going to do an update on what is one of the most popular blogs I ever wrote, called Shopping at Ruthfred (Where?). There is an old shopping center not far from here called Ruthfred. [...]

  7. [...] from the 1940s—is western Pennsylvania’s first strip mall. In 2009 I wrote a blog called Shopping at Ruthfred (where?). It was one of the most popular things I ever posted, which should tell me something. I figured it [...]

  8. […] Shopping at Ruthfred (where?) […]

  9. Hello, just wanted to tell you, I loved this blog post. It was funny.
    Keep on posting!

  10. Wow! This blog looks exactly like my old one! It’s on a completely different topic but it has pretty much the
    same page layout and design. Outstanding choice of colors!

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