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Much lost

November 10, 2013

Regarding Williamsport and its lack of businesses and services since the 1980s, do you call Williamsport a center city business district? Well, you have lost 47 stores/businesses since 1980s and......

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Nov-10-13 3:14 AM

Sooooooooo, what you are saying is businesses should stay open no matter how much money they lose, just to make you happy?

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Nov-10-13 4:11 AM

I've said it before..... and I'm told I'm crazy. PARKING and CONVENIENCE is what killed downtown. People left downtown to shop at places like Hills, Robert Hall, the Loyal Plaza and then the Lycoming Mall because they had convenient parking. The only thing surviving downtown besides Wegmans (their own parking), Hotels (their own parking) and Kohls (also their own parking) are the bars and restaurants.

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Nov-10-13 4:33 AM

Mike, I don't even know if parking can revitalize the downtown area. It may make it easier for folks that work in the area but what businesses does anyone see opening in the downtown area. Times have changed and between internet shopping, malls and places like WalMart, Kmart and Target, small businesses like what used to be located downtown can no longer survive. Personally I do 90% of my shopping online because of the wide variety of choices at much cheaper prices. The city continues to dump money in the downtown area in hopes that if they build it they will come.

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Nov-10-13 5:08 AM

Capricorn, look 30 miles south to Lewisburg. They've got a thriving downtown with all kinds of shops, and with ample parking. It will never be like it was in it's heyday, with the Five and Dime, Stern's and all the other stores that have been lost. But it CAN be revitalized with Niche shops to go along with the entertainment and food/beverage markets already there. But to bring me in there, and I suspect a lot of others, you need to add parking. There is plenty of room to add diagonal parking to both sides of 3rd and 4th streets and to one side of a lot of the other streets in the downtown area.

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Nov-10-13 6:37 AM

Williamsport had the perfect opportunity to exploit its downdown when Crown America wanted to put the Lycoming Mall in the Canal Street Renewal Area. Local merchants were afraid of the competition and made sure that that did not happen. They never dreamed that people would drive 10 miles to go shopping. That was in the days before the beltway and Muncy was a 30 or so minute drive. Now it's a ten minute drive. Instead of thinking big, they chose to develop the area piecemeal with no real coherent plan. Downtown had been dying ever since. Now we have a tattoo parlor in Market Square where a bank once stood and second hand stores where thriving businesses once stood. Williamsport had its chance and blew it big time.

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Nov-10-13 6:54 AM

Half of those business owners are deceased. Some went to the mall because business is about profit. Kinley's is still open and thriving. Niche stores only do well when surrounded by larger stores to attract shoppers. Agree with Kerstetter re: Lewisburg. Another difference in Lewisburg is the students from Bucknell utilize the downtown. I also agree with Cap, many of us shop online. We do.There is better selection, ability to get better quality at better prices.

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Nov-10-13 7:38 AM

spike2-"Another difference in Lewisburg is the students from Bucknell utilize the downtown."

Spike, I don't know that I agree with that as an excuse. Penn Tech and Lycoming College are both within the same walking distance as Bucknell is to downtown Lewisburg.

And Re the anchor stores, there are no anchor stores in downtown Lewisburg.

I'm telling ya, it's the inconvenient parking that is downtown Williamsport's downfall.

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Nov-10-13 7:43 AM

I have fond memories of going to LL Stearn's with my Mother. We parked a few blocks away, not sure where, although I remember walking by ice thrown outside a building that smelled like fish. I don't think we ever parked near the stores, it was always a fair distance away. Strange what you remember from childhood.

I think my favorite part of the store was the elevator.

I also remember when the Lycoming mall opened - that was something else! And like many others, we didn't go down town much after that.

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Nov-10-13 8:27 AM

I think Williamsport is heading in the right direction with bars, restaurants and clubs.

Those are good reasons to go downtown and one can walk from bar to bar, rather than drive between them or just sit at one bar all night long.

The youth like to "hop" from place to place.

We have some good restaurants downtown now as well. In the past, Williamsport lacked great food (other than Herdic House).

PS: I think Bucknell also has more students than Penn Tech and Lycoming combined.

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Nov-10-13 9:01 AM

While it is true that downtown has lost businesses it is also true other businesses have replaced them. Granted they are not the same type or what you are use to but other businesses have been filling in the vacancies and not as fast as the downtown and citizens would like.

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Nov-10-13 10:34 AM

When I first settled here in the early sixties, the stores on that list were still in operation downtown and I used them. Due to career choices I left for about eighteen years and returned about sixteen years ago upon retirement. Now I’d rather take a beating than do any business downtown, but I consider that due to an evolution that Williamsport was on the losing side of. The same thing has happened to downtown areas just about everywhere, Like Mike pointed out; some towns fared better than others.

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Nov-10-13 10:55 AM

My early memories of going downtown with my mom include a stop at the Carroll House (third floor, toys, Matchboxes), Krimm's (toys, models), and Milo's (cheeseburger, fries, strawberry soda). We took the bus (I got to pull the string).

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Nov-10-13 12:44 PM

What people are forgetting is the evolution of 'stores' let alone shopping. You have big box stores that basically incorporated several specialty merchandize stores into one. They have contributed to the decline of 'downtowns'. In order to survive downtowns have to change what businesses to attract.

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Nov-10-13 2:33 PM

CMReeder-"What people are forgetting is the evolution of 'stores' let alone shopping. You have big box stores that basically incorporated several specialty merchandize stores into one."

Add they have ample free parking in front of the store.

Strip malls, basically what you had downtown, are becoming more popular than malls. They also have their own parking.

I'll give you a good example.... Watsontown has BeeCee hardware on Main Street. While there is some parking on Main Street, during the day it's limited and most likely It won't be near the store. Knowing that, I'll either drive to Clarks Ag in Turbotville or to Ficks Hardware on the Susquehanna Trail because I know I can find parking.

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Nov-10-13 8:35 PM

The only reason to go downtown Williamsport is for business at the Court House that can't be done elsewhere.

Like someone said Bars yeah now that is a wonderful reason to go downtown. Let's hear it for the bars that makes me feel safe walking downtown.

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Nov-12-13 1:48 PM

Hey Stephanie, not to worry, you have the gasholes that will save the day!

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Nov-13-13 12:24 PM

Ok, I've lived here all 34 years of my bothers me to keep reading about people complaining about the city...Yes, there is a problem with stores and businesses leaving downtown and surrounding area...Why is though...I don't believe that it is because downtown is unsafe...when ws the last "major" crime downtown compared to other area cities....Maybe if people would get together, talk with city council members, talk with the mayor to see what can be done. Its great that we are entitled to our own opinions about matters, but until we actually approach the people who make the decisions about whats going, not to complain or criticize but actually talk to them about what can be done, if we as a community make an effort to talk to the right people rather than just complain every time we see them or just complain about downtown, we're not helping the fact, we're just digging the whole deeper....if you were a business checking out Williamsport, on line or on the news, esp

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Nov-13-13 12:27 PM

Continued....When they read the paper and all they say are the residents complaining about the city, would you want to come here, cause if all you read is complaining, you wouldn't want to come here.Also, we need to be more supportive of the businesses that are currently here, shop their stores, going in to their businesses..spread the word, this is a great city, but we as a community can come together to make it better!!

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Nov-14-13 8:21 PM

Decentralization of the downtown business district gave way to ugly non description suburban sprawl. Strip malls and plazas with huge pedestrian unfriendly ugly blacktop acreage in front. The same cookie cutter chain businesses and socially vacant empty utility consumer experiences mile after mile. This planned destruction of cities across America is being recognized for what it is... the stripping of local resources to foreign corporate headquarters or foreign suppliers. Local dollars spent at local business keeps the local economy vibrant. There is hopeful progress being made in downtown central business districts, including Williamsport.

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