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Making The Most Of The Great Outdoors

Ung Chon and his wife Hee Ja have owned and operated the Pottstown Army/Navy store for nearly 25 years.

Ung Chon keeps a large album filled with photos of various wild mushrooms that resemble stuff -- including a human brain, lava, mug of beer and sea flora -- in his store.

He and his wife took the photos while walking on nature trails in Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey. They walk nearly every week  to photograph mushrooms, he said.

The weird and beautiful lifeforms along a trail make the walking experience more enjoyable, Chon said.

And he would know.

Chon has been an outdoorsman since he was a kid.

He learned at an early age that quality camping gear is essential for nature trips.

"When I was a kid, I used to use military (equipment)," he said.

His love of the great outdoors and expertise in camping led him to open a military surplus Army/Navy store in Quakertown in the mid-1980's. 

A few years later, he moved the shop to a 6,000-square-feet store on High Street in Pottstown. 

Today, Chon and his wife Hee Ja -- natives of South Korea -- have operated the Pottstown Army/Navy store for over two decades. The Chons have two grown sons who grew up with the business, Ung Chon said. 

The store carries a wide variety of hard to find military gear, clothing and boots for all sizes, children's toys, nurse and local school uniforms.

"We have many items," Ung Chon said and added that the store does not have a website and gets new customers from word of mouth referrals. "(Regular) customers keep coming and we have many new faces all the time."

The Chons play recorded classical music in the store, which also features their personal collection of antique military items on display.

"It has good stuff for scouting," said Douglassville resident Shawn Sekela of the store's merchandise. Sekela, who works in Pottstown, was in the Army/Navy store on Monday to buy merit badge booklets. "It's a great store."

The Pottstown Army-Navy store, 229-231 High Street, is open 9 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Mon. - Fri. and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sat. To learn more, call 610-323-8000.

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