Marilla Country Store, the longest continually-operating store in New York State, celebrates its historic 170th year this September.
The store bears the proud distinction of having never closed its doors since its opening in 1851. Even during the Coronavirus pandemic, when many businesses were forced under, Marilla Country Store held firm to its core mission: to serve the needs of all who visit; from the earliest settlers, to modern Western New York families, to travelers from all over the world.
“To say the store has seen a lot in 170 years would be an understatement,” says owner Sandy Grunzweig. “We have been through 33 U.S Presidents. 8 global pandemics, 6 major blizzards, and more than 100 wars.”
“But no wars, blizzards, or even global pandemics have been able to keep us from fulfilling our promise to meet the needs of the people of Marilla, and all who pass through.”
The anniversary will be recognized on Saturday, September 18th as part of “Ag Day,” the Town of Marilla’s annual celebration of its deep agricultural culture. On that day, the store will offer a free basket raffle and free Mayer Brothers cider and donuts while supplies last.
“Marilla Country Store was established when agriculture was emerging in this region,” says Grunzweig. “Since our heritage is so steeped in Marilla’s agricultural community, the store’s anniversary is truly something for the entire town to celebrate.”
Grunzweig’s family, the Gingerich’s, are the third to have ownership of Marilla Country Store since it was established in 1851. In fact, the store is older than the town of Marilla itself. Marilla wasn’t incorporated until two years later, in 1853.
The site was acquired in a trade between a local shopkeeper and a logger named Harrison T. Foster. Foster found himself on the brink of losing his business after his oxen got loose in a nearby cornfield and ate themselves to death.
Fortunately, the shopkeeper was willing to trade his business for Foster’s land. The new store that Foster and his partner, Charles Walker, built in place of the old one is the original site of what would eventually be known as Marilla Country Store.
The store has remained family-owned over its entire 170 year history. In 1916, Louis Monchow, the son of Harrison T. Foster’s partner Gustav Monchow, took over the business from his father. It remained in the Monchow family until 1979 when the Gingerich’s bought the store, following Mildred Monchow, Louis’ wife’s, retirement.
It was the Gingerich’s who gave Marilla Country Store its name.
“Especially given the past year and a half, my family is eternally grateful to still be here, going strong,” Grunzweig says. “We couldn’t do it without our incredible staff, who has worked so hard to keep us going, even during a global pandemic. And, of course, to the Marilla community who has supported us for 170 years, and continues to this day. We are excited to share this historic milestone with all of you!”
Since 1851, Marilla Country Store has been a destination for Western New York families and travelers passing through the area. The store features three floors, teeming with unique gifts, stunning home decor, bulk foods and candy, and so much more. Join us for the day, and leave with something you will treasure for a lifetime.