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Visions for Vacancies

What would you want to see in these vacant storefronts?

They pepper our Main Street, Bethlehem Pike, Broad Street, side roads and the like in our neighborhoods.

They are vacant storefronts and empty buildings - locales that once had life that now have none.

This feature will highlight certain properties and ask you - what would you want to see there?

Today's featured property - the former Lansdale News Agency location at 301 W. Main St.

The last store to occupy the location was Ah's Garage Sale, which opened in 2009. The sign still hangs outside the store, located across Susquehanna Avenue.

So, what would you like to see go in there? Another news agency? A barbershop? A music store? Tell us in the comments.

The Lansdale News Agency closed in September 2006.

It had been the Lansdale News Agency since about 1950.

Between Ah's Garage Sale and Lansdale News Agency, The Shabby Attic did business there. 

According to Montgomery County property records, the owner is Linda Jacquette, whose address is listed with the county as the third floor of the property.

Paul and Elizabeh Fehnel owned it since 1966, and it was sold to Paula and Linda Jacquette in 1999 for $148,000, according to court records.

The Fehnel's son, Robert Fehnel told The Reporter in 2006 that he sold the agency in 1995. He said his father had first bought the business in 1928.

In its heyday, the news agency was a glorified news stand, with employees bringing magazine racks in and out each day. 

The business expanded in 1950 by moving to Main Street, said Fehnel, who first worked at the store in 1941 as an 11-year-old. 

The row building was erected in 1920. The public land record says there are two apartments above the retail space.

The building contains 2,674 square feet of sale area.

So, tell us below, what you would like to see go in to 301 W. Main St.?

Jen April 04, 2012 at 08:52 PM
just spitballing... - coffee house - cafe - yoga/pilates studio
The Sod Father April 04, 2012 at 09:08 PM
Mid range and high end restaurants. A coffee house. High end boutiques. Lansdale can do so much better if we had stricter zoning regarding signage, lighting, business types, etc. And for the love of Pete, no more pizzerias and nail salons.
Mary Jones April 04, 2012 at 09:27 PM
A bookstore would be nice. So would a record store. And a movie theater would be awesome. But what makes anyone think people will spend their money there instead of getting what they want off the internet or at a big box store? How do you convince people to spend the extra money at a brick-and-mortar independent store? "Civic virtue" doesn't mean anything to people anymore; "investing in the community" is nice, but how many people really believe in it, i.e. put their money where their mouth is? We live in a world about paying the least amount of money for the most amount of work; whether it's outsourcing tech jobs to India or buying our stuff at Walmart. I want to live in a town where people are willing to spend a little more because they know that they're investing in their community. But I'm not convinced that's how people are anymore. And who can blame them? I have to be frugal as much as anyone--if not more, given how I've been trying to get a real full-time job for almost two years with no luck. Every penny counts.
patchifier April 04, 2012 at 11:24 PM
"How do you convince people to spend the extra money at a brick-and-mortar independent store?" Provide them something they need/want and can't more easily get online or in the big box stores. Nowadays, this no longer includes most media stores, although there are exceptions (B&N for example). I've seen this same argument in several cities, and it always boils down to the stores that are the most convenient and best serve the community's needs survive. Independent stores can do just as well as the big chains, and town centers can beat suburban shopping centers. I'd shop on Main Street a lot more if the stores I shop at were there, and for the most part, there's no reason they couldn't be. But I'm not going to limit my shopping to the borough if the stores here don't sell what I'm buying. So I end up driving to Montgomeryville more that I'd like to. And I'm sure I'm not the only person in the borough who feels this way, because there's clearly a demand for new stores - it's just a matter of matching up the right ones.
patchifier April 04, 2012 at 11:34 PM
Another news agency? A barbershop? A music store? - 1) Obsolete; 2) we seem to already be well stocked; and...3) maybe, especially if it came with a cafe. And we're pretty well stocked on junk shops and hobby stores, too. How about... 1) cafe 2) Mexican restaurant 3) frozen yogurt/gelato/ice cream place (ie Yogurtland, Coldstone, etc.) 4) (new) clothing stores/boutiques There, I just filled at least four vacant storefronts :-)
patchifier April 04, 2012 at 11:38 PM
I'm gonna second these.
Mary Jones April 04, 2012 at 11:50 PM
1) What kind of cafe? I mean, we already have Virago and Starbucks. How many cafes do we need? 2) Sure 3) Sure, though we already have Rita's and the place on Main. 4) We have clothing stores and boutiques. I'm not against more, but how is that different from a barbershop in terms of being "well stocked".
patchifier April 05, 2012 at 04:20 AM
1) Many :-) Starbucks serves the west end of town, and Saxby's the south. Virago is central, but the food and coffee are hit or miss. A Little Something Nice is also central, but forced to keep train station hours. So that leaves the east end of town underserved, and room for improvement in the center of town. 3) Forgot about that place on Main...now if I can ever manage to walk past when it's actually open... 4) True. Similar to 1) it's not a complete absence of stores, more of a lack of options.
Janet Herman Karll April 05, 2012 at 12:30 PM
Let's not forget about Tabora's coming soon, that will be awesome!! At least until the vacant stores are filled, clean the store-fronts out of old signs and junk. A news agency would be nice to have again, a card store would really be nice to have in town, Yogurtland's are to die for, you can't even compare it to Rita's.
Watcher1 April 05, 2012 at 12:53 PM
There are many ideas we can all put out there, however I agree with patchifier. If the locals residents do not support these businesses they will(the businesses will not survive). Examples of some businesses that might fill a void. A card/gift store like the mall, a spice shoppe(that was a unique store and did well), a year round icecream/waffle eattery opened all year and till at least 10-11. Ladies boutiques.The old McDonalds would be a nice void to fill. But keep in mind no business will be interested unless the community supports it. We all want want but how many of us actually do do. In others word put our money wherer are mouths are.
Margaret April 05, 2012 at 01:02 PM
How about a store for garden decorations, or a Blue mercury (women's store similar to Ulta, but with different products).
Linda Donaldson April 05, 2012 at 03:02 PM
How about a craft and antiques and collectibles consignment shop along the lines of the former Green Apples in New Britain. This would fit well with other collectibles shops and the art gallery. The need for new kitchen equipment would seem to make any cafe in such a small property cost prohibitive.
CTLaw April 05, 2012 at 04:21 PM
Can you add to that list no more "cash for gold" or check cashing stores
CTLaw April 05, 2012 at 04:25 PM
A Bar/art gallery with light appetizers and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. - Jazz. Make it an "after dinner destination". Like "Vincents" was for years in West Chester.
Karin April 05, 2012 at 04:52 PM
I like the idea of a yoga studio!
Janet Herman Karll April 06, 2012 at 01:11 PM
Great ideas everyone!!!!
David Kratz April 06, 2012 at 02:28 PM
I think this town is heading in the wrong direction. I have lives in this town all my life. This town had a great thriving downtown for years but the Boro council kill it and now they are trying to fix it. Every town is now trying to the same thing with there downtown. The problem is the parking in Lansdale if you get all the hit places you want there is very little parking and that new condos they just sold the Madison parking will not address this. They are not increasing the parking for that area and they are adding more stores. we also have other areas in town that wants business also but the Boro is for some reason just wants downtown. Another thing we need to do is get things for kids and teens to do. they hang at parks, mall and the streets. How about giving then something to do where they can have fun.
Linda Donaldson April 06, 2012 at 02:49 PM
As a former downtown business owner (LD Graphics, printing & typesetting, now retired) for 12 years, I disagree that the borough was the reason for the downtown decline. The Mall with it's clothing, shoe and accessory stores became the place to shop. The destruction of entertainment venues quickly drove young families to the megaplex theaters. The Lansdale Business Association and the borough have struggled to support parades, tree lighting, concerts, parades, Lansdale Days, the farmer's market and now First Fridays. Now, more than ever, we residents need make the Patch's list of events our "go to" calendar. Visit the Jenkins Homestead, drive downtown, park and walk along. You might be suprised to see what's new and who you meet. I love the thrift and consignment shops, art gallery and the library myself, but there are plenty of restaurants and ice cream/water ice/food shops cropping up. Support your local business owners.
Tony Di Domizio (Editor) April 06, 2012 at 02:58 PM
I agree with you, David, that there is nothing for the teens and kids to do. The borough will disagree with you about the parking situation. A study showed that there is not a parking issue in the borough; there are adequate spaces to park. People just don't know where to go to park.
Tony Di Domizio (Editor) April 06, 2012 at 02:59 PM
Linda - Thank you for shouting out the Patch events calendar. We want that to be the source for people to know what is going on in town. Anyone can make an event at any time. And it's simple too.
longtimehere April 06, 2012 at 07:50 PM
A Mexican restaurant would fit in perfect in the old moving and storage building on W. Main St. It is built in the Mexican style. I would also like to see a real Cheese Shop, Pastry Shop and butcher.
Jen April 06, 2012 at 08:03 PM
I couldn't agree more regarding the market saturation of nail salons, cash for gold and pizzarias...to that list I will add: - consignment shops (enough with second hand stores on main street) - spas (of any kind - we already have 2 or 3) - repair/electronic shops What really seems to thrive are the specialty stores that attracts outsiders into town (e.g. Arnold's, Virago, Farmer's Market).
Jen April 06, 2012 at 08:14 PM
I'm adding to my original list... - running store (e.g. - north wales running company) - specialty food such as, cheese, spices (am i the only that misses spice smuggler), butcher, international, etc. - gastro pub that orders the MMA fights to draw in out of town visitors (the only places that do this are in KOP and Horsham)
I. B. April 07, 2012 at 11:39 AM
I'm gonna agree also.
I. B. April 07, 2012 at 11:59 AM
http://chestnuthill.patch.com/articles/mango-offers-tasty-selection http://souderton.tenthousandvillages.com/ Both for all age groups, low to high pricing Gift and holiday shopping, with a unique quality, and an option far better than a mall, one with a cause, as well. I am also looking forward to Tabora and want to avoid placing any similar food type shops that would compete, in order to help its success.
I. B. April 07, 2012 at 12:01 PM
http://admin.tenthousandvillages.com/media/wysiwyg/Store_Souderton/2012Easter_Gift_Ideas_in_Ten_Thousand_Villages.doc. For example, Easter items at ten thousand villages

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