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Grange News Agency closed after 122 years

By Staff | Mar 11, 2015

PHOTO BY BARB BARRETT/The Luminary The Grange News Agency on N. Main Street in Muncy closed its doors for business on December 31, 2014. It was open as a news agency for 122 years.

MUNCY – Muncy has lost an old stand-by. Community residents long remember the Grange News Agency located on N. Main Street and part of the historical district. For December 31, 2014 was the last day the News Agency remained open.

Built sometime in the early 1800’s, owner Ginger Ohnmeiss said she still has a copy of the first Grit sold there and the first Luminary sold. “They are kept in the safe,” she said, “which is too hard to move. It will always be there,” she added. It took four men just to move it across the room. Made in 1893, it is part of the fixtures.

The original owner was Boyd Grange which makes the news agency the oldest business named after the first owner. The name still remains on the front of the building. After Mr. Grange, Paul Reece and Arwood Snyder became owners.

Over the years the business has remained a family run business. It has always been a news stand, and the “hub of town. All of the news came from there,” Ginger Ohnmeiss said. “It was a town meeting place for gathering the news.” The first lottery machine in Lycoming County was also installed there.

Busses would run from there. Elaine Hacker from Muncy said she remembers getting the bus there in 1965 to go to New York City for the first time. “It was a major bus depot,” Hacker replied. She said she took the bus to New York to board the Queen Mary on a transatlantic trip to Europe. “I remember many of us would go into the building to use the phone inside to arrange for pick up after our trips.” This was 50 years ago.

The Ohnmeiss family purchased the business July 7, 1997 from Dovea Reece who had previously purchased it from a partnership with Arwood Snyder. Ginger is a life long resident of Muncy so she knew about the property and its significance to the Muncy community.

They continued to sell books, newspapers and magazines until the magazine franchise was lost. “We were mostly selling used books,” Ginger said. Comic books were a big seller, and many would often stop by to purchase them. The original cash register is still there. the Reece’s grandson. Curtis still lives here in Muncy and asked the Ohnmeiss family for his grandparent’s pictures on the wall.

After 122 years, closing the agency became a difficult family decision due to her husband’s health, according to Ginger. Their older son, Aaron would come down from Mansfield to help. “Both of our boys were after their dad to close it,” Ginger explained. “We just didn’t have enough business to pay someone else to run it. Sunday sales slowed and business dropped a lot. We talked about it for the last two years,” she added. “It was hard to compete with the chain stores.” Her husband Rick, had open heart surgery last November and this was truly the reason the store had to close. “He was working third shift at night and running the store during the day,” she said. Ginger works full time at the Lockard Agency in Hughesville.

Although working full time jobs, Rick and Ginger Ohnmeiss remain as owners of the Grange News Agency and are seeking a tenant. “We have a good prospect now,” said Ginger, “and we hope to keep the building utilized.” There is also an apartment upstairs.