Greencastle gift stores blooming near square

September 20, 2002|by RICHARD BELISLE

GREENCASTLE, Pa. - The growing number of antique, gift and specialty shops in Greencastle is changing the makeup of the downtown business core and is attracting a different kind of shopper, business owners and the executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce said this week.

"People feel that traveling 20 or 30 minutes to a Wal-Mart store where they can find everything they need is no longer cumbersome," Chamber Director Dana Given said.

"Greencastle needed to create its own niche," Given said. "It started in the late 1980s when the Shamrock Gift Shop opened.

"Gift and specialty shops may come and go, but they have created a market for this kind of shopper. They don't just visit one shop. They often come for the day," she said


When tour buses get off the interstate and stop for lunch at the Antrim House Family Restaurant and Catering Service their passengers often end up going into the shops, she said.

"One if my goals is to contact more bus companies to get them to stop in town so that when they're en route to Gettysburg and Lancaster they can schedule an hour in Greencastle," she said.

Primitive Instincts at 55 E. Baltimore St. is Greencastle's newest gift shop. The shop, which Dana Loch opened this month, specializes in antiques and primitives from her private collection. She used to be in the auction business on Maryland's Eastern Shore, she said.

"Business has been better than I expected," Loch said. "I've doubled my projections. People love to shop in Greencastle because of the assortment of shops. They all have a different flavor."

Loch said about half of her clients are local.

"We all overlap (on inventory) to some extent," said Leisa McCracken, owner of the Willow Tree at 11 E. Baltimore St. The Willow Tree is the biggest gift shop downtown. McCracken moved into the space vacated by the owners of the Shamrock last spring.

McCracken said E.L.M. Shoes and E.L.M. Department Store on the Public Square is the downtown anchor. "They bring people in. A lot of the people who come into my shop carry E.L.M. bags," she said.

The Antrim House and Wolf's Bakery also draw shoppers, she said.

Bob Chaney has owned Bob's Florist and Gifts at 9 E. Baltimore St. for 10 years. Shopping in Greencastle is much like shopping used to be years ago, he said. "It's an old time comfortable place to shop. We all have our specialties.

"I welcome all of the new gift shops. There's a new antique and gift shop that's going to open on the square. "It's better than having lawyers offices and government offices downtown," he said.

Chaney said Greencastle is fortunate because of its proximity to the interstate. "Mercersburg and Waynesboro are too far off the beaten track," he said.

Mercersburg is 10 miles west of Greencastle on Pa. 16 and Waynesboro is 10 miles east.

Chaney said his is the only downtown gift shop open on Sundays. "I'm busy all day," he said.

Other recently opened gift shops in town include My Jacob's Ladder at 35 E. Baltimore St. and Be'tina's Breise a French Country Gift Shoppe, at 30 W. Baltimore St.

Leigh Martin opened Cup O Joe, a coffee shop at 21 E. Baltimore St., nearly two years ago.

"This is a very supportive community," Martin said. "I had about 50 people in here at the ribbon cutting. The downtown business community works together. We're like a little family. I talk up the gift shops in here and the gift shops send people here for coffee and soup."

The coffee shop stays open on Friday nights in the colder weather. It offers acoustic music and poetry readings.

"It's a place where people just come in and gather. We're going to have a teen coffee house, too," she said.

Her clientele consists mostly of shoppers and downtown business people, she said.

Greencastle Mayor Robert "Red" Pensinger said he has long been a supporter of the downtown business community.

"I'm pleased with the variety and caliber of the gift shops downtown," he said. "They draw people in from outside the area."

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