John Graham McCrorey opened his first 5 & 10 store in Scottdale, Pennsylvania in 1882. An ambitious program of dime store chain acquisitions was carried out by the parent company during the 20th century.

In 1916, the W.W. McLellan chain merged with McCroy. H.L. Green stores came into the fold in 1932. By the mid-20th century, the corporation was going under the MMG (McCrory-McLellan-Green) heading. The J.J. Newberry chain was absorbed in September 1972, with T G & Y stores being acquired in December 1985.

In addition, individual stores of the following chains were bought by the McCrory conglomerate; W.T. Grant in 1976, Neisner's and S.H. Kress in 1980 and G.C. Murphy in 1989. Eventually McCrory operations would extend to forty-six states.

The economic slump of the 1970s resulted in a loss of commerce for McCrory Stores. A downsizing and tightening of efficiency within the organization stabilized the company for a time. However, by the late 1980s, McCrory Stores was, once again, in dire straits. The problems were exacerbated by the somewhat shifty dealings of Turkish-born Meshalum Riklis, who had purchased the company in 1960.

As the 1990s rolled around, two hundred and twenty-nine out of one thousand stores had been shuttered; these being operated under the McCrory, G.C. Murphy, T G & Y and J.J. Newberry nameplates. Three hundred of four hundred and sixty stores shut down in 1997. By April 2002, the remaining one hundred and sixty stores had gone out of business.