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By Hilde Kate Lysiak
Is downtown Selinsgrove becoming a ghost town?
An Exclusive Orange Street News investigation has revealed that out of the forty-seven store fronts on Market Street between West Pine and University Avenue nearly one fifth are empty or for rent and that number doesn’t include the buildings that are houses or apartments.
Business owners are scratching their heads wondering where have all the stores gone!
“I have no idea why so many stores are empty, but I wish there were more businesses,” Glenn Wagner, a manager at the Kind Cafe, told the Orange Street News.
Some said there just wasn’t enough people in Selinsgrove to support local businesses.
“There is not enough foot traffic,” Stephanie, a worker at Subway, told the Orange Street News.
But others think it is the cost of doing business in Selinsgrove that is the problem.
“The rents are just too high,” Chamber of Commerce President Helen Walter told the Orange Street News.
Walter appears to be right.
Opening a 3,000 square foot first floor business at 113 N Market Street would cost $2,000 a month plus a $2,000 security deposit, according to Weichert Real Estate website. Meanwhile, a place in Lewisburg that is nearly the same size and is a “prime downtown location update interior finish, 3 display areas, 2 offices, storage room, kitchenette & 3/4 bath” is being advertised for $995.00 per month on Craig’s List and includes water, sewer, trash.
“They need to lower the rents,” added Walter.
Walter also believes another problem is that many of the college kids are skipping the downtown and instead shopping on the strip.
“A lot of people think Selinsgrove is the strip and haven’t taken the time to notice the downtown,” she added.
Others believe that abandoned buildings like the one next to the Selinsgrove Hotel on Market Street, which has shattered windows and looks haunted, are also hurting businesses.
But despite the shattered windows and all the for rent signs there are also signs of life. A new business, Weavers Nest, recently opened on West Market and the old Kleinbauer building which had been empty for years was recently filled by Vivace Music, who is using the space to teach music lessons and hold live concerts.
Still, all the closed stores lead to more closed stores, making fewer people want to come to Selinsgrove.
“I think its trashy to see all the for rent signs in Selinsgrove,” Vincent, who works at Bella’s Pizzeria, told the Orange Street News.