No sales tax on clothing and shoes – this is one of the reasons Mercer County, Pennsylvania has become one of the largest, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year bargain destinations in the world.
Sitting at the crossroads of I-80 and I-79 in western Pennsylvania, the County lies midway between Erie and Pittsburgh and is a shopper’s paradise. The Grove City area is home to one of America’s top outlet centres – Grove City Premium Outlets offering a full day’s shopping at places like Chico’s, White House Black Market, Nike Outlet, Banana Republic and Tommy Hilfiger. Popular sales events are featured regularly and include most holidays. Those driving in the area should take advantage of AAA/CAA Appreciation Day on September 21. Another attraction in the same area is Wendell August, America’s oldest and largest forge. Here, skilled craftsmen create one-of-a-kind hand-wrought ornamental metalware and elegant giftware in aluminum, bronze, pewter and precious metals.
At Slovak Folk Crafts, you can find handcrafted gifts from Slovakia including hand-cut lead crystal, pottery, woodcarvings, decorated eggs, embroidery and wooden toys. The store also boasts the largest animated woodcarving in North America. Created by three woodcarvers, it depicts life as it was in Slovakia hundreds of years ago with a large manger scene as the focal point. Powered by six windshield wiper motors used for Volvo trucks, it features 82 moving figures. Openings behind the display enclosure show how the animation is done. Proceeds from this store are donated to charitable educational and cultural projects in Slovakia.
Those who love shopping for shoes must certainly stop in at Reyer’s Shoe Store, said to be the world’s largest shoe retailer. Starting out as a humble 111-square-metre shop in 1886, it has grown to 3,345 square metres today. Reyer’s has more than 300 famous brands and 100,000 pairs in stock including hard to find sizes. This local store is situated about 40 kilometres west of Grove City in Sharon.
Also in downtown Sharon is The Winner – World’s Largest Off-Price Fashion Store. Touted as the world’s largest discounted fashion store, it offers huge savings on the latest fashions and accessories in all sizes ranging from petite to plus sizes. The Winner is a “hometown” store staffed with dressing room attendants that are at your beck and call. What’s in it for men? Lolling around in the Men’s Lounge equipped with television, popcorn and beer.
For those with a sweet tooth, Philadelphia Candies in Hermitage is known for their velvety-smooth chocolate. Or there’s Daffin’s Candies, the world’s largest candy store with over 600 different creations. Besides chocolates, Daffin’s is known for its “Chocolate Kingdom,” a fantasy land filled with chocolate characters. This one-of-a-kind attraction features creatures such as the 181-kilogram “Tommy the Turtle”, “Elsie the Elephant” and a storybook castle, all made with chocolate.
After all that shopping, there are many dining options to indulge the palate. Local establishments to check out include the Victorian-styled Rachel’s Roadhouse, Iron Bridge Inn (famous for its “Fabulous Sunday Brunch”), Hickory Bar & Grille, Stonewalls at Tara – A Country Inn, Donna’s Diner, Montana’s Rib and Chop House, The Clark House, Compadres Mexican Restaurant and Bella Cena Italian Restaurant.
There’s also the original Quaker Steak and Lube in downtown Sharon. This family chain restaurant actively rescues muscle cars, vintage autos, trucks and custom and antique motorcycles by giving them good mileage as mounted and hanging decorations in the restaurant. Food-wise, it serves over 80 million wings annually and has won the title of “Best Wings USA” plus many awards for their sauce recipes. Of course, other favourite restaurant chains such as Elephant and Castle, and Hoss’s Steak and Sea House can also be found in these parts.
For accommodations, Mercer County caters to all types of budgets. Among the hotels available are Hampton Inn, Holiday Inn Express, Park Inn by Radisson, Quality Inn, Red Roof Inn and Comfort Inn. There are also 10 bed and breakfasts offering distinct architecture and gourmet breakfasts. Buhl Mansion Guesthouse & Spa is one of the top-rated B&Bs in the US. Constructed in 1896, this Richardsonian Romanesque castle mansion has 10 lavishly appointed guestrooms featuring gas fireplaces and jacuzzis while a full service spa offers more than 100 indulgent treatments. The property’s spectacular gardens allow for fairytale castle weddings. Recognized as one of America’s Top 10 Most Romantic Inns, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Another unique lodging is Tara – A Country Inn. Inspired by the Hollywood classic, Gone With the Wind, Tara is an embodiment of the Old South, offering Southern Hospitality and a chance to enjoy the luxuries of days gone by. Built in 1854, the 27 luxurious guestrooms feature gas fireplaces and either a whirlpool or sunken tub.
Go to visitmercercountypa.com to sign up for the complimentary Escape Coupon Book that comes with 60 great offers and discounts.