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Entrepreneurs say Hagerstown has bright future

Event is second in series about downtown business experiences

Event is second in series about downtown business experiences

January 24, 2008|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN ? A handful of downtown business owners told a crowd of roughly 70 people during a Thursday meeting at City Hall that Hagerstown has a promising future for business and residential opportunities.

The event was the second in a series of quarterly meetings that welcome entrepreneurs to speak about their business experiences downtown. The panel featured Allie Buchman, co-owner of The Potomac Bead Co.; Ashley Haywood, co-owner of Skyline Coffee Co.; David Lyles of David Lyles Development/Lyles Ventures; and Tom Newcomer, owner of R. Bruce Carson Jewelers.

Buchman said The Potomac Bead Co. has thrived since she and her husband, Nathan, opened it a few years ago. People come from Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and other areas to buy beads and make jewelry, she said.

Business has been so successful that The Potomac Bead Co. has franchises in Florida and Scotland, Buchman said.

Before customers leave her store, she said she encourages them to stay in town by pointing out the things that other businesses have to offer.

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"We talk up downtown," Buchman said. "Why can't we be like other cities we hate being compared to"

After the presentation, Rich Daughtridge, president of High Rock Studios, a marketing and design firm at 10 Public Square, said he was encouraged by the optimism at the event.

He said he would like to start a partnership comprised of downtown merchants to market their businesses. Similar partnerships have enjoyed success in larger cities, Daughtridge said.

After spending several years in Brooklyn, N.Y., and overseas, Haywood said she recently returned to Hagerstown for her sister's wedding and noticed a lot of "young people walking around." She said she thought the youthful atmosphere offered a good opportunity to stay in town and open a business.

On Jan. 15, Skyline Coffee had its grand opening.

Haywood said, "It's a big-city amenity with a small-town feel."

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