Saturday, June 2, 2012

Is Elizabethtown experiencing a downtown renaissance?

A couple of months ago, local businessman Andrew Schoenberger came to a Borough Council meeting to discuss a new initiative he and two other businesspeople started called Market Street Improving Business.

Schoenberger, who owns Epic Photography, Lisa Clemens from the Lynden Gallery and Brad Alexander from the soon-to-open Pita Pit joined forces to start this organization focused on building up business in downtown Elizabethtown. A native of the borough, Schoenberger said he remembers as he grew up that his family didn't have to venture outside of town for lots of shopping.

"We have a feeling a lot of people want that back," he said.

The new organization, for which the organizers are seeking nonprofit status, will provide support to downtown businesses and also help bring some ideas to fruition. Schoenberger mentioned a town map of businesses, bringing a farmer's market to town and having events downtown.

In addition to Market Street Improving Business, the downtown area could be on the verge of a renaissance, with new a number of businesses having opened or planned.

Consider that J's Sweet Treats, a bakery featuring all sorts of cakes, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and pastries that opened this spring has expanded already. Located on the southeast corner of the square, owner Jodi Stapler has moved the kitchen for the bakery into a neighboring storefront on the square. And in the past week or so, she just opened an ice cream parlor in the neighboring storefront on East High Street.

Last year, a used book store called Pages opened next to Folklore Coffee & Co. on the northeast side of the square. I ventured in for the first time in April in search of a birthday present for my wife, and I was duly impressed with the quality, condition and selection of the books. Check out this great story that WGAL's Meredith Jorgensen did about Pages last fall.

And what about Andrew Douglas Jewelers? After several years without a jeweler in downtown, this business recently opened.

This coming week, the Pita Pit is slated to open in a portion of the former Elizabethtown Hotel. The owners provided the food for last Thursday's installment of the Downtown Summer Lunch Series. They said opening is pending inspections, and they were hoping to open as early as Tuesday.

That's not all that's happening at the former hotel. Sean Cavanaugh, owner of John J. Jeffries, an upscale restaurant located at the Lancaster Arts Hotel, has plans to open a similar eatery there. Cavanaugh's approach is to prepare fresh, seasonal and organic food. To learn more, take a listen to an interview with him on the Lancast.


  1. Thanks Jeff, for a great update! We are so excited about all the fresh energy pouring into our Downtown - especially the level of quality in service and product. I've often heard "Etown can't support small business," when we've seen things come and go, but I don't believe that's true. I my experience, Etown embraces and supports businesses that are well run with a consistent quality experience for their customers.

    Many of our successful, long term vendors offer a destination product or service that you can't find just anywhere. That's part of what makes us special! Where else can you find a shop devoted to just trains, or just comics? Between my home above the Lynden Gallery and the two block walk to my favorite coffee shop, Folklore - just on my side of the street - I can purchase a new bike, get my hair cut, have a suit tailored, purchase my insurance, exchange an old video game, get my nails done, replace my appliances or have them repaired, work out an advertising plan with a marketing professional, get a cool birthday cake, have my taxes done, and a choice between Chinese, subs, soups, salads and sandwiches for lunch with a hand-dipped scoop of icecream for dessert.

    All my Christmas and birthday shopping gets done right here - within walking distance of my front door, and I have the added good feeling of knowing I've supported my community with my purchases. How cool is that!

    1. It is really striking when you list all of the new businesses that have opened since Folklore did. Anyone who says E-town can't support small business is just being negative.

  2. I am really excited about all the new shops. I like the idea of staying in town if possible, and it is refreshing to have more businesses open. Any word about the Roth's store?

    1. Someone had proposed doing some kind of flea market/antique store at the Roth's building, but the last I heard they determined it wasn't feasible. I haven't heard anything new.


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