Jan 19, 2010

Target Market

The other week, when I was writing about the success of 7th Street, I said that Walmart and Brooks Brothers were not looking for the same market segment. All successful shopping centers know their target market. 7th Street has evolved into a successful low income Hispanic business district. The Promenade Shops in Saucon Valley is a successful high end purveyor.

Unfortunately, for Allentown's traditional Hamilton Street, its market has been manipulated away. The market share there was the bus transferees in the 700 Block. Twenty merchants, with well stocked stores, provided a shopping venue for the twenty or thirty minutes between buses. The Administration, The Parking Authority and Lanta, to harvest a grant for a parking deck, killed that goose.

In the 900 block, a few remnants of Allentown's better days hung on. Last year Freeman Jewelry finally closed. Although unsaid, they had more chance of being robbed than selling something. Tucker Yarn, an institution profiled on this blog, continues on, despite being constantly agitated by city policy and a Parking Authority that preys on his customers. A successful fitness center, also on that block, was forced out of business by the Parking Authority's hunger. About ten years ago, a very attractive eye care center also opened on this block. First a tenant, now the building owner, this couple gambled their time, energy and resources on Hamilton Street. Their current frustrations can be read on Bernie O'Hare's Ramblings.

Since the bus people were not high end enough for this Administration, and millions of public dollars have gone into a couple of restaurants designed to attract deeper pockets, this Mayor better resolve to provide the proper police protection. This past Wednesday evening, the City claimed that the police department supports the expanded Trailnet Plan in and between the parks. Is this the same police department that fails to instill confidence in the merchants? I don't think those spandex bike suits have a pocket for a wallet. We need a Hamilton Street where fat, middle age people with wallets, can park automobiles and shop, safe from the Parking Authority and predators.


Anonymous said...

Someone recently mentioned a new volunteer business group committed to keeping downtown businesses alive. It sounds very hopeful, but one might ask why weren't they able to help those two small businesses you mentioned that just closed.
However, it's exciting to read how 7th Street Commerce is thriving. Maybe that success can be transferred to Hamilton too?

Anonymous said...

The magic of Main Street organizations has helped Emmaus' downtown, 7th Street and is headed to Hamilton Street. Sour grapes merchants are everywhere. Rather than complain, why not roll up your sleeves and pitch in?

michael molovinsky said...

although i applaud the Main Street Program on 7th St., administered by Pete Lewnes, it would be sad if hamilton st., once the shopping mecca of the valley, had to resort to that program. already more grants have been given to the brew works alone, than any Main Street program ever got.

michael molovinsky said...

anon 9:14, you are an apologist moron. people who have invested their capital and time for decades are not "sour grape merchants", but should be consulted as the true experts on the needs of a shopping area.

in the future, there are many puff blogs for your comments, do NOT submit here

Anonymous said...

it would be sad if hamilton st., once the shopping mecca of the valley, had to resort to that program. already more grants have been given to the brew works alone, than any Main Street program ever got.

January 19, 2010 9:27 AM

We agree with your thoughts about Hamilton Street, but that's only because we're old-timers and remember when.
The total dollar figure in grants awarded to the ABW might shock readers. Maybe someone good with
math will add them up, but its probably more than $1 M.

Anonymous said...

MM, Main St. Programs don't just bring grants in. They provide a central focal point, structure, an organized voice that individual shops / merchants can't as they're too busy trying to run their businesses. Their sleeve are already rolled up so to speak.

This support, when done right (7th St. and Emmaus are good examples) helps greatly.

So I wouldn't categorize it as 'resorting to' anything, and it's not just for getting grants. It could be a good move that helps stablize things and helps turn it around.

The Banker

michael molovinsky said...

banker, it wasn't that long ago that allentown had an improvement district and director, as you may recall. currently the chamber of commerce has a special person assigned for that purpose. (remember the focus hocus pocus meetings last year?).

i resent that the bureaucrats would remove the customer base (lanta transfer stops) penalize the shoppers (parking authority) and then propose a program to help (main street)

ironpigpen said...

"We need a Hamilton Street where fat, middle age people with wallets can park automobiles and shop, safe from the Parking Authority and predators."


Anonymous said...

Yes, I remember all of that. And I resent it too - but the fact is, "We are where we are." If the transfers are not coming back to Hamilton (and they aren't), then what else can we do to help?

I recognize this looks like I'm throwing in the towel on buses, and I am. Let's get those merchants help as quickly as possible. Each day spent battling a losing cause means those stores are one day closer to going under.

The Banker

ironpigpen said...

"The Allentown Brew Works, a former furniture warehouse and showroom, was a $ 7 million dollar project that received more than $ 1 million in city and state grants and a $ 3.4 million low-interest loan from the Federal government."


"Some Cities Better Than Others At Attracting Night Life"



"I avoid the area"

an Allentown city resident quoted about downtown in the above-referenced article

ironpigpen said...


Is that the secret ingredient?

Where was all the magic for JOHNNY MANANAS?

We all remember that place, don't we?

Did Mayor Ed Pawlowski not say Johnny Mananas was going to be the cornerstone to the renaissance of downtown Allentown?

What happened there?

Not enough magic or not enough paying customers?

Anonymous said...

I can understand your feelings, but I have two thoughts. The first is that with regards to LANTA and the Parking Authority - the damage has been done. I think with a Main Street program, merchants will be better able to organize around issues like this in the future, and can possibly prevent further abuses. I am not excusing this, and think its the absolute opposite of how government should be, but you are viewed as a naysayer and antagonist by the City, and very little you organize around will be well received by those at the reins. However, if a Main Street coordinater like Peter Lewnes was the organizing force for these issues, the outcome might be different. Second, given how the City has done disservices to the merchants over the years, what is better - that they continue to do nothing positive? or that they bring in a program that may have a positive effect.

We can all reminisce about what once was, and also recognize that much of the deterioration of Hamilton Street is due to negligence or bad decisions by the City (although the City can hardly be blamed for the horrors of regional "planning" that resulted in MacArthur Road being the commercial hub of much of the Lehigh Valley). However, that reminiscing and placing blame - fair as both may be - doesn't do much to move Hamilton Street forward. Is it a sad day that our once-thriving main street is now in need of a Main Street Program? Yes, but that doesn't mean we should snub our noses at the prospect.

Anonymous said...

ANON 1:57,

I totally agree with you but I am hoping the new "holder of the reins" that will be placed with the task of bringing Main Street back to life, is not politically affiliated. MM, Bernie O' Hare, and, at times, even myself, are ostracized for not being politically correct when it comes to saying things about A-town. I believe we all want to see it do better, and I have, literally, placed Allentown on "my back" when it comes to doing City wide events and will continue to do so, but it gets wearisome to see and hear about money being spent on new plans, policies, and procedures with no improvement or change in the City. I don't think that qualifies anyone as a NAYSAYER, just a REALIST.
If anything is going to be done, it has to be done with someone who has a broader vision of what Allentown used to be, what it is currently, and what needs to HAPPEN, in order to make it great in the FUTURE. It's NOT impossible, but the people of Allentown and merchants on Main Street need to be INSPIRED.....

Alfonso Todd