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Entrepreneurs wanted in Waynesboro

Economic development director of Main Street Waynesboro Inc seeking family businesses

July 03, 2010|By JENNIFER FITCH
  • Chuck Souders of Think ReInk in Waynesboro, Pa., talks to Patrick Fleagle, economic development director of Main Street Waynesboro Inc., about refilling ink cartridges. Fleagle is fighting against economic realities as he tries to recruit and retain businesses in downtown Waynesboro.
Jennifer Fitch, Staff Writer

WAYNESBORO, Pa. -- "I'm not looking for businesses, for buildings. I'm looking for entrepreneurs."

Patrick Fleagle walks along Main Street in Waynesboro and points out the business model he thinks works best. As economic development director of nonprofit organization Main Street Waynesboro Inc., Fleagle is fighting against economic realities as he tries to recruit and retain businesses.

Fleagle thinks small businesses work best when they are family efforts. He said young, energetic people can try to fill a niche in the community under the guidance of older generations.

Fleagle, who started in the position seven months ago, highlighted the Tsoukatos family at Zoe's Chocolates and the Hartzoks at Olympian Athletics.

Ron Hartzok said he always has had businesses in various downtowns and the Main Street address helps out-of-town customers find the store. However, he said the reason why Olympian Athletics, which makes team and logo apparel, does well is it doesn't rely on passing pedestrians.

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"We're fortunate because we do not need foot traffic," he said.

Hartzok said it isn't actually downtowns that are hurting, but the small, personal retail stores that form them. He blamed big-box stores and the economy.

"An honest mom-and-pop retailer can't make it anymore," Hartzok said.

Fleagle disagrees and thinks his hometown's downtown can be improved.

"I have a vested interest in what this town ends up being," he said.

Main Street has lost numerous businesses in recent years and a few more are on their way out. Already closed are the Best Western, Rose Manor assisted living home, Ace of Shades and Castle Fabrics Home Decor, and a couple of startups in the old John Wallace Kitchen.

"Last year has probably been the toughest year of the past three years," Fleagle said.

Retail business owners need to get away from the concept of being open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed Sundays, Fleagle said.

"There's nobody shopping from 9 to 5," he said. "Everyone is working."

While walking on Center Square, Fleagle stops to joke with Kelli Hess of Country Expressions. He praised Hess, who is in her 30s, for her expertise in crafts and her marketing ideas.

"There is hope for the next generation as far as retail is concerned," he said.

The things hurting Waynesboro's downtown and yet helping the community as a whole are the social clubs, Fleagle said. While it's hard for a restaurant to compete with the clubs' food prices, the clubs donate a lot of money to programs, he said.

Fleagle paused when walking past the old Wolff building on East Main Street. Although the massive building is in receivership, Antietam Realty is accepting rent payments from the remaining tenants.

The Wolff building would be ideal for an art gallery or a business incubator, where multiple smaller businesses could grow, said Melissa Russ, Main Street Waynesboro Inc.'s director of promotions.

"It's a huge building that has a lot of potential," Fleagle said.

Sometimes, a business lured by inexpensive rent might not be exactly the right fit for downtown, but at least it brings employees who will shop and eat downtown, Fleagle said. Whoever ends up occupying the old Sheetz and CVS buildings will have workers supporting the economy, he said.

Fleagle said he would like to see a restaurant, possibly one with a drive through, utilize the old Sheetz.

"I'm big on restaurants because people follow their stomachs," he said of bringing people to Main Street.

One of Fleagle's big initiatives involves creating plazas in communal parking areas behind buildings. The work already done in the Rotary parking lot could be mimicked around the Trinity parking lot and a lot created north of East Main Street, he said.

Fleagle believes there are people like him who believe in sticking with a project rather than taking the easy way out and tearing down a building. He sees recovery on the horizon.

"We went through this in the '70s much worse than this," he said.

Upcoming Main Street Waynesboro Inc. events



o Farmers' Market

Every Saturday through September from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the Rotary parking lot.

o Strollin' Saturday

First Saturday of every month on Main Street. Event includes live music, food and activities.

o 30K race

Scheduled for Sept. 18. Race starts at Center Square.

o Market Day

Sixth annual event scheduled for Oct. 2. Event will include an expanded chili cook-off, scarecrow and apple pie contests, and a hoe-down.

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