Tag Archives: business

From Rebecca: Top something list of businesses no longer in State College

This is not the typical top ten list that you are used to reading here. I had the idea of a list of businesses that used to be in State College, but aren’t any more, but when I talked it over with Joe and my husband Darren the three of us came up with more than ten. I tried to write the post in prose form instead of a list, but that version was soooo dry and boring. So I went back to list form, but the list is not an even ten, and is in categories, so it is a top something list. They are in no particular order and I will start with #1 and go down to #6, the number of categories I reached.

State College is a busy, thriving place. It is the main campus for the Pennsylvania State University, it has a steady local community, and is surrounded by a lot of small towns with people who drive in for various reasons. We have had a lot of businesses come and stand for decades, some have come and lasted for many years, and some have come and gone so fast that they barely made a ripple. The reasons these businesses left State College are many, from the owner(s) retiring, to the money running out, to the rents rising too high, to the lease not being renewed, to society moving on to another form of entertainment, etc. All three of us grew up in this area and remember a lot of changes over the years.

#1. Businesses in downtown State College a long time ago, that left a long time ago: Danks department store; a five and dime store that I think was G. C. Murphy; four or five movie theaters, including The Garden and The Movies; Svoboda’s Books; and video game arcades, including Playland and Campus Casino.

#2. Businesses outside downtown a long time ago that left a long time ago: A&P grocery store; Riverside grocery store; A&W Root Beer stand; Hills (the Hills Plaza is still there with other businesses in it, but the main building is sadly sitting empty after all these years); K-Mart (I sometimes give directions to people using the phrase, “Past where K-Mart used to be, even though it left State College a few decades ago;) and Hardee’s.

#3. Businesses in the Nittany Mall (I haven’t been there for a while, alas, so this is an old list): Sun Coast Video; Gee Bee department store; KB Toys; and B-Dalton.

#4. Businesses that Darren, Joe, or I have worked that are no longer here: CiCi’s Pizza; Kentucky Fried Chicken; BiLo Foods and then Jubilee grocery stores; Ponderosa Steakhouse (I still miss their food so much); Shoney’s restaurant; and (I worked at B-Dalton too, but I decided to put that in the Nittany Mall entry.)

#5. Businesses we lost in the last 1 or 2 years (many of these were sudden and unexpected): Denny’s; Eat’n Park; Don Patron (our favorite Mexican restaurant;) Mario & Luigi’s; and Chili’s Grill & Bar.

#6. Businesses we lost in the last 15 to 20 years (assuming my memory for time is correct): Arby’s; Nittany Line Hobbies & Toys; Starlite Drive-In theater;O.W. Houts & Sons; Blockbuster Video; and Hollywood Video.

This is by no means a comprehensive list. Most of these places are on my list because they meant something to me, I used to go there a lot, or they were part of the landscape of State College. Are there businesses you can think of that I didn’t mention, from State College or from where you live, that you would like to share with us? Please feel free to share in our comments. We love hearing from you.

Joe will be back next Wednesday with a new blog entry. Until then, as he would say, take care, have a great weekend, and happy reading.

From Rebecca: Letting go of an historic place

I live in a place that changes all the time. State College is a college town, with the main campus of Pennsylvania State University located here. We have construction and new developments all around the area, for retired people moving back, professors and their families, and students that need off campus housing. I used to know the names of all the streets, but now there are a lot of streets I don’t know. Businesses come and go, especially downtown and in the mall, and old buildings get torn down for new ones.

There are some businesses and buildings that have remained for decades, standing in the middle of all of this change. I like knowing that they are there, and that even though I don’t often use their services, that they make up the framework of my town. I almost never go to the Nittany Mall, for instance, but I like that it is still there. Schlow Centre Region Library is one of the anchors of downtown.

One of those mainstays is clearly struggling, and may shut down. A motel and restaurant, it has been here since before I was born. I don’t want to use the name in respect for the current owners, who are fighting hard to keep it afloat. They had to file for bankruptcy this year and have tried several things to save the business.

This place means a lot to me, as my mom used to work there and met my stepfather there too. She worked in the coffee shop in the evenings, and once in a while my sisters and I would go up while she was closing it down. We would do little chores to keep occupied and she would let us pick out a pack of Lance snack crackers or cookies as a reward. My mom was really busy at that time, and we didn’t have much time with her, so that was a chance for us to have a few moments with her. Now that I think about it, at this time we got more time with Dad, as he was with us in the evenings she worked. She eventually got a job at the university, and then attended the university. We stopped going to the business as much.

The business had a coffee shop, formal dining room, and motel rooms. It was owned by one family for decades, who were big in the community. As far as I could tell, they kept the place maintained and in good working order. Then they decided to sell the business, and I have a vague memory of it changing hands a couple of times, and now the current owners are struggling. At some point the coffee shop was closed, I don’t remember how many years ago. I would drive by the business, confident that it was the same as always and would be around forever. I had no idea it was in danger of going out of business, even when a local restaurant set up shop there in place of the formal dining that used to be a staple of the area.

Then within the last two years, the business was featured on a national show focused on helping failing hotels. I watched it and was shocked by how much it had gone down hill. So much on the property needed to be fixed, and supplies were low due to lack of funds. It was clear during the show that the business I took for granted might disappear like so many other places around here. The owners are still hanging on, but for how long?

My first reaction to losing this business, which I haven’t been in for five years, was that I didn’t want it to go away. It means something to State College and it is important to this area and its history. It is important to my history. But is it really? Today, I don’t know. I went by it yesterday and saw a new sign up for their new smoking bar. Another attempt to bring people in, which might save the place or might not. And for the first time I felt like it was okay to let the place go. With so many changes to it, the old place I remember from growing up is already gone. I would be okay if this version of the business did close up and okay if it succeeded for many years to come.

Having said that, I imagine I would not feel so peaceful about it if the buildings were razed and something else in that spot. It would seem wrong. But I would get over it. I’m not the one who is in debt for this business and I’m not the one working every day to make it better; the current owners have a right to do what is best for themselves.

We have lost a lot of businesses and places in State College in the many decades I have lived here, but we have gained some good new ones too. If we lose too many historic places, we lose a lot of our history, and that would be a shame. But life is not lived in the past, however much we miss it. We have to make our lives in this area the way it is now, and very often that is a good thing.

Life doesn’t have a reset button

How many of us have ever wished that there was a reset button in life? Obviously there isn’t. What I am about to share with you is something very personal that happened in 2006. My divorce became final after a very short marriage. Though I was with the woman I loved for a year and a half, the marriage only lasted eleven months. Pity, I didn’t even get to celebrate an anniversary. I’ve actually pounded my head against a wall a couple of times, going over events that lead up to 2005 and right through when the final divorce papers were delivered in my mailbox.

If I had a reset button, it would have been worn out by now. I would have constantly tried to change my life, undoing the mistakes that I made. Did I love my wife? Of course, that’s why I married her. Did she love me? I think so. But we had problems and it just didn’t work out. Some of my friends tell me that if I had a reset button I should have pressed it when she first arrived.

I was born with parents and grandparents who worked very hard their whole lives and were lucky enough to make the right choices at the right times to become financially stable. Not that I would have used that money as a crutch, but what money was left to me is now gone, due to bad choices I made. Some friends of mine have said that, “She stole from you.” I say, unequivocally, “No. We spent the money together, trying to get a business going.” Here is where I would have hit the reset button the second time. No business venture!

The more I think about it, I actually could have hit my reset button in junior college with my girlfriend at the time. I was shy and awkward and one terrible evening I got scared of the whole situation and suggested that we break up. I shall never forget the hurt look on her face. I had completely misread her thoughts and feelings. Apparently, she loved me and was just as scared and shy as I was. My attempt at reconciliation failed.

People say that hindsight is 20/20. If at ten years old, I had decided that every time I get a quarter in my change I’d save it, and I did, imagine how rich I would be now. I’m going to be 47 this July. That would have been 37 years’ worth of quarters. Do the math.

Well, readers, obviously there is no reset button in life. There is only something called good judgment. That is something I have lacked for many, many years. I keep telling myself every New Year’s Eve, that I shall make my resolution to be more frugal and less “too nice.” In other words, stop being a sucker. But that resolution lasts about three days. The only thing I can do is to try to better myself each day and make fewer mistakes as I go through my life. I guess that is what they mean by people get wiser with age.

A brief word about what’s coming next. I plan on sharing some updates about my writing as to how camp book 2 is coming along. Also, if Keekee does anything spectacular, you’ll be the first to know. Until next week, take care.