HOLLIDAYSBURG - Brittany Cunningham and Tamara Brumbaugh, who are among a handful of new business owners in Hollidaysburg, grew up in the borough and remember the days when Allegheny Street was buzzing with business activity.
"This is my old stomping ground. I remember what it was like here when I was young. I want it to be just like it was way back when," said Cunningham, who opened Playtime Pottery, a paint your own pottery studio, May 9 at 318 Allegheny St.
"I remember all of the shops. I remember what it was like along the main street in Hollidaysburg. It was sad to see it not be a hub any more," said Brumbaugh, who opened RoxZ & the GirlZ March 19 in the former Lasser's Shoe Store at 311 Allegheny St.
(Mirror photo by Gary M. Baranec)
Brittany Cunningham helps Breckin Boland, 3, of Hollidaysburg choose some colors for his pottery piece recently at Playtime Pottery, 318 Allegheny St., Hollidaysburg. Watching is Breckin’s mother, Lauren.
"We sell women's and children's clothing and home decor items. We are a unique boutique. We sell a lot of one-of-a-kind items. If you come in to buy your daughter a dress, you won't see it on five other kids," Brumbaugh said. "Our goal is to sell unique items and to keep everything affordable."
Kerrie Kinzle and Bill Marks are other new business owners in downtown Hollidaysburg.
Kinzle opened Finds Furniture Consignment in the former H.L. Green building at 301 Allegheny St. in November.
As a previous local business owner, Kinzle said she did research before opening her new store.
"I found out furniture consignment stores were the second biggest growing retail business in the United States behind used car lots. If you look at other areas, places like Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Washington, consignment stores are on every corner," Kinzle said. "This area is always catching up with trends. I needed to be at the forefront of this trend."
Marks, a retired Norfolk Southern welder, opened The Scroll Works on Nov. 15 at the rear of the Wierman's Furniture building at 409 Montgomery St. He said the business is temporarily closed because of his illness.
After taking his products to craft shows for several years, Marks and his wife decided to look for a permanent location.
"I cut things out with a scroll saw - wooden puzzles, frame art, wood carved pictures and figures. They are unique gifts. You don't find them anywhere else. It is all handmade stuff," Marks said. "Hollidaysburg was starting to do some downtown development and I decided it would be a good time to get in there."
Chrissey Wagner plans to open a consignment shop - Jems Funky Consignments and More - but is still looking for a location.
"It will be a consignment store for clothing from juniors through misses, some men's things, a lot of accessories, jewelry, shoes and possibly some gift items," Wagner said. "I am from Hollidaysburg. I love Hollidaysburg. This is something I always wanted to do. I studied retailing and fashion merchandising years ago. I thought this was a good time to do it. I am going for it."
Main Street Manager Jamie Baser is excited about the opening of the new downtown shops.
"There are some things we did not have and will be a welcome addition to the area," Baser said.
"Hopefully they will bring people downtown to the existing businesses that are here as well," Baser said.
Jamie Van Buren, a partner in Hollidaysburg Downtown Development LLC, an investment group, said they have been focusing on filling the Wierman's building at 225 Allegheny St. and the former Lester's building at 219 Allegheny St., which the group calls the Diamond Project.
"We have had some luck getting tenants. We have six tenants and will have a seventh one in the next six to eight weeks," Van Buren said.
Renovation work on the former Blair Cinema building, 213-215 Allegheny St., will begin soon.
"We are starting design work for that. We have done some interior demolition work and are putting a new front on it. We are planning a combination of commercial, retail and residential for that building," Van Buren said. "There will be construction activity on that building this summer and fall."
Plans remain on hold for the former First United Methodist Church, also known as the O.K. Stuckey & Son building, 400 Allegheny St., as the group is focusing on the Diamond Project, Van Buren said.
The recently opened businesses are doing well.
"It is going very well. It is unbelievable," Kinzle said. "We have a huge turnover. We have constant nonstop foot traffic. With the price of furniture and the state of the economy, this is a great alternative in today's market."
Brumbaugh said her business is picking up.
"It is hard to get your name out there. People do not know who we are. Our name is a little different," Brumbaugh said. "Once they come in and see what we are selling, they will start to tell their friends about us."
Baser is working with other potential business owners. She said she tries to give them a reason to come into the borough.
"It is exciting that new retail businesses have opened here and we have more professional offices. It is good to have a mix of both; they support each other," she said. "Hollidaysburg would be able to attract more people to shop if we had a wider variety of stores."
She added that the challenge is having enough interest from the community to support new businesses downtown.
Van Buren said the goal is to get all vacant spaces rented, and his company has been getting inquiries.
"I am optimistic because the phones have been ringing. We need a mix of commercial and residential and that is what we are trying to do," Van Buren said.
Mirror Staff Writer Walt Frank is at 946-7467.