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‘New’ general store buys local, connects with community

Wanamakers General Store is on Kings Highway in Lynn Township, near Kempton.

Like a country line dancer, Arian Hungaski moves back and forth between two prep areas behind the deli counter at Wanamakers General Store near Kempton in Berks County. She’s assembling an order of sandwiches that includes special wraps offered only in the spring. They’re made with chicken, fresh strawberries, feta cheese, mixed greens, balsamic glaze and a touch of mayo.

Like a country line dancer, Arian Hungaski moves back and forth between two prep areas behind the deli counter at Wanamakers General Store near Kempton in Berks County. She’s assembling an order of sandwiches that includes special wraps offered only in the spring. They’re made with chicken, fresh strawberries, feta cheese, mixed greens, balsamic glaze and a touch of mayo.

Wanting to make sandwiches like these helped inspire Arian and her husband Tim to buy Wanamakers in 2007. Then living in the Philadelphia area, Hungaski was visiting her native Kempton area and bought a sandwich at a nearby convenience store.

“It was ‘so-so,’ she said. “I knew I could offer something better.”

The idea of being self-employed played into Hungaski’s quest for work-life balance and spending time with her three children.

The same was true for business partner Kyra Hendricks, who first was a manager then became co-owner in 2013.

Both women worked at the store when they were teenagers. Both had moved to Philadelphia and its suburbs. Both returned to Kempton, drawn by the area’s simple charm and a dream of what they might accomplish.

Wanamaker’s legacy began with Civil War veteran Elias Hoppes. He built the store with handmade bricks in the 1870s, creating a 138-year-long livelihood for himself and two successive Pennsylvania families.

The future seemed assured by a strategic location near Hawk Mountain, WK&S Railroad, Lehigh Valley Zoo and Leaser Lake – and with no other grocery store within a 14-mile radius. But then Leaser Lake was drained in 1999 for repairs.

With the water went steady revenue from bait sales, boaters and lakeside picnics. Previous owners David and Deborah Bond closed Wanamakers in 2004.

A plan to refill the lake gave the Hungaskis courage to buy the business from the Bonds and bring it back to life. Water finally returned, and last spring the lake was stocked with fish.

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