Two roads diverge in the mountains when you’re heading into Centre County from Harrisburg. You can either continue on U.S. Route 322 toward State College and Philipsburg. Or you can veer off onto state Route 144 toward Penns Valley, Bellefonte and Bald Eagle.Or you can stop at that intersection, at Homan’s General Store, where separate wooden, red and white signs advertise: Bait, Chips, Milk, Subs, Gifts, Deli. “It’s a convenience store, but it’s not your typical convenience store,” said Brenda Homan, who opened the business with her husband, Bruce, 16 years ago.There are plenty of soft drinks and packaged Tastykakes, but there also are some local specialties on sale: macaroni salad made from a great-grandmother’s recipe; photos of local farms, churches and bridges taken by the Homans; homemade pot pies, apple dumplings and banana bread.In the beginning, the couple lived in an apartment above the store.“We started out with next to nothing,” Homan said. “We had sandwiches, drinks and gas, and we asked customers to tell us what they wanted. So as customers told us what they wanted, that’s how we built the store.”About 70 percent of their customers are local, and the rest pull off of U.S. Route 322 — especially Penn State football fans picking up hoagies.The store now has 10 employees and has done well enough that the Homans have been able to relocate. They’ve moved into a Madisonburg home and out of the apartment above the store — which 16 years ago they discovered was a haven for wayward spirits.“They actually folded our laundry, which is kind of odd,” she said. “They’re friendly ghosts.”Centre Hall author Jeffrey R. Frazier wrote about the Homans’ haunted sightings in the seventh volume of “Pennsylvania Fireside Tales,” which is on sale for $12 just to the right of the store’s entrance, near the flowered curtains, honey, jewelry and local photos.
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