Heidi Sue Variety store, one of Phoenixville’s longest running businesses, is approaching the 32nd anniversary of when they first opened their doors.
Located at 230 Bridge street, directly across from the Colonial Theater, the shop is a favorite five and dime to the local community, offering a wide selection of items and services for their customers.
Owners Ken and Sandy Zimmermann first opened Heidi Sue in September 1981. The store had previously been a five and time shop since the 1950s, first opening as Newberry’s, and then DE Furlow’s in the early 70s. The store is named now after Ken’s two oldest daughters, Heidi and Susan.
“We’re a dinosaur. These types of stores just don’t exist anymore, very few,” said Sandy. “A lot of people in Phoenixville, don’t shop Phoenixville. We have a lot of people from out of the area (who come.) If someone is looking for something special, they might think of us.”
Walking the aisles of the store, there is a plethora of goods for customers to find. Hardware, pet supplies, cosmetics, stationary, greeting cards, wrapping paper, candles, yarn and sewing notions , school supplies, toys, flags and much more. There are also some food items like rice, pasta, vegetables, condiments and a cooler with sodas and beverages located in the front of the store.
Sandy Zimmermann said the store also sells money orders and takes a lot of payments for residents. Customers are able to pay a number of different bills including Peco, Verizon, Pennsylvania Water, Aqua, PG and W, Macy’s card, Sears card, Target, Lowes, Home Depot and much more.
“We offer friendly service, and we do a lot of services,” said Sandy. “We’ve taken the phone bills since we’ve opened. We do over 200 types of services, you can pay most of your utilities here. Our list is endless.”
Ken Zimmermann is thankful to his generations of loyal customers who have continued to shop at Heidi Sue. Said Ken, “We’ve had some very, very faithful customers. We’re seeing a third generation of customers. We’re amazed when we see now, young people, who were in a stroller.”
Continued Ken, “We are extremely grateful to them, that they keep on coming back. That’s one thing for sure, we want them to continue to come back and we always hope that we’re serving them well enough that they do come back. I think that our record of 31 years shows that.”
Sandy credits her husband’s genuine love of the business as the secret to their long success. “My husband always loves the business and the people. Kenny just likes everybody. It’s a great town. It’s been very good to us,” said Sandy.
Despite the rebirth of the town through the past decade, some local businesses are still being affected by recent changes, such as charging times for downtown parking lots. Sandy said she would also like to see more of a police presence in town helping to move crowds along when necessary.
“One of things that has hurt has been the parking downtown. People still don’t know that the lots are free until 2p.m., they don’t realize that. For us, people come in and they’re in for five minutes. They come and get their tokens for the bus, or their passes, or they pay a bill and they want to go, and they like to park right out front. People want the convenience, they don’t want to walk,” said Sandy.
As the times change with bigger chain stores and strip malls seeming to appear around every corner, it is nice to wander into Heidi Sue Variety and find a unique item, friendly service, and a glimpse of retail stores of the past.