To the editor: I’m old enough to remember a time when Shamokin was a thriving community. Coal was still king, and that industry provided an abundance of jobs, both in the mines and in processing and hauling the finished product. The area also was home to a large shoe factory, as well as a significant number of garment manufacturing facilities, which supplied the region with many job opportunities, particularly for the women who resided in the area. Additionally, our downtown stores could fill all of our needs, from basics to luxuries. There were dress shops, men’s clothing stores, shoe stores, department stores and hardware stores. No need to ever leave town to buy anything.
Sadly, the area fell on hard times. Modern and convenient oil and electric heat devastated the coal industry, and the garment factories slowly but surely began relocating to other countries in order to take advantage of cheap labor. With the jobs gone, the number of downtown shoppers dwindled, and one by one, the stores began to go out of business. The final blow came with the advent of shopping malls, and local merchants were unable to compete.