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By Hilde Kate Lysiak
As businesses continue to struggle in Selinsgrove owners search for answers.
Velocity Firearms, located on Market Street in Selinsgrove, recently told the Orange Street News that his gun selling store might have to shut its doors in January.
“Its unfortunate, but we just aren’t making a lot of sales,” Margel told the OSN.
Margel wouldn’t be alone. Earlier this year the Hip Hop Hippy Shop shut its doors after only being opened a few months.
Last March, an Orange Street News investigation 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.
Domenico Napoli, who owns Bella’s Pizzeria on Market Street, says he often wonders why so many stores are struggling in Selinsgrove.
“I would really love to have an answer,” he told the Orange Street News. “Its a beautiful downtown. Its very nice. Its a nice university. You would think every store would be full.”
Napoli believes that one of the reasons might be that too many people are skipping the downtown and shopping at the strip or the mall.
“You need to do something different downtown rather than have the same items all the time. There is no variety. There is no reason why someone would come downtown and shop because there is nothing to shop for anymore. A shoe store, anything that would attract the female demographic area. You know if the woman wants to shop the husband will follow,” said Napoli.
Another possible reason: there aren’t enough people on the sidewalks, according to Subway manager Christopher Carr.
“There just aren’t a lot of people out shopping and buying things,” Carr told the OSN.
Other business owners point to the high rents, especially compared to busier towns like Lewisburg.
Earlier this year 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.
Some business owners say that town officials don’t understand business and that leads to problems. Last month when new business Vivace Music cut down a tree on his own property, instead of working with the owner, the town fined him.
“I assumed the tree was part of my landscaping. I didn’t even think that it would belong to the borough…,” Fisher told the Orange Street News.
Helen Walter, President of the Chamber of Commerce and owner of Cottage on Pine, believes that one of the problems is that so many people don’t know about the downtown.
“My focus with the Chamber of Commerce is to let people know our town is here,” Helen told the OSN. “To let people know there is this charming little town here and that its a fun place to go to get away from the busyness and have a unique experience for Christmas.”
Walter pointed out that 33 local business joined together to advertise for Christmas.
Its not all bad news for Selinsgrove, earlier this year the Wicked Dog opened on Market Street. It is often packed with hot dog loving costumers.
“We have some really unique shops in town,” added Walters.