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Dunham's Department Store re-opens May, 8th as Tioga County, PA goes from Red to Yellow!

As for most businesses this year started out pretty well, and this was the case for Dunham’s Department Store, located in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. This family owned and operated department store has been in business for 115 years, which is a credit to their tenacity and dedication to their community. They carry everything from apparel and beauty aids, to housewares and toys. They were just beginning their Founders Day sale when news spread about the severity of the COVID19 crisis and the possible closure of non-essential businesses across the country. “ We thought, well, we are out here in the woods, we’re kind of remote, we will be fine,” Ann Dunham Rawson, Vice President of Sales and Merchandising recalls. There was hope that they would be able to remain open with restricted conditions, but ultimately like most retailers were mandated to close. It was a very emotional time when the store announced that we had to close says Ann. I held myself together, and I gathered everybody and I said ‘this is what’s happening, we’re going to be closed, and after everyone left I had to walk around the store and put up the signs and I just sobbed the whole way through the store.”

Located in a charming self-serviceable town full of life with restaurants, doctor’s offices, lawyers, a Performing Arts Center and many healthy small businesses, Dunham’s serves as a local one-stop shop for most of your needs. They were, however, put in a unique situation, as a department store that carries household and work essentials; they ultimately were deemed a non-essential business and were mandated to close. The family also owns and operates numerous other businesses in Wellsboro including a hotel, movie theater and a hardware store. The hardware store thankfully was allowed to remain open. Ann kept herself busy working at the hardware store, even picking up a new skill. “ I learned how to mix paint, and its kind of exciting, its not just adding colors, it’s a chemical reaction, and it was very interesting to learn.” Sales in hardware and paint have soared for their hardware store as people have turned to home improvement projects to help get through quarantine. Ann managed to “sneak” in some merchandise from the department store, including some highly sought-after essential nail polish! “It’s new experiences and skills like this that help you think creatively about your business remarks Christine. Ultimately these little insights bring all areas of your business into focus for an owner and help you to think more innovatively in the future.

Yesterday, May 8th, marks a special day for Dunham’s Department store. As the state of Pennsylvania moves to partially reopen previously declared non-essential businesses in various counties. Tioga County was included in the first wave, and a grand re-opening was made possible for this family owned and operated store. The re-opening does come with some restrictions, including limited access to certain areas of the store, and moving merchandise around so that it is safely accessible. They will also be operating with half the amount of staff they normally have in order to maintain employee safety. “We’ve had to adapt and feel we’ve been given this gift of being moved to yellow, and we are taking it very seriously that we need to keep people healthy and moving in the right direction.

Picking up where they left off, Dunham’s will continue their Founder’s Day Sale, calling it a “Re-Founder’s Day Sale”, where almost everything in the store will be 20% off. And if you are looking for a new spring hat, fresh hats and fascinators were just dropped off at the store!

With things slowly heading toward normalcy take a day and go visit Wellsboro and help Dunham’s celebrate a well-deserved (partial) re-opening of their store and community! Say hi to Ann. I am sure she will greet you with a big smile!

For more information about Dunham’s, visit their site,

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