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LB focuses on growing businesses

LOWER BURRELL: While the city waits for its larger storefronts to be filled, it can hang its hat on the fact that smaller retailers find the area a good place to do business, city officials said.

“If you look at the stores we’ve lost in the past four years and compare them to the ones we’ve gained, we’ve actually gained more,” Councilman David Regoli said. “Unfortunately, the ones that catch everyone’s eye are the vacant Family Toy Warehouse, Wards and Ames.”

City officials said they would rather give attention to the businesses that keep coming in and the ones that have stayed for years. They point to such things as Eckerd building a new prototype store near Route 56 and other business tenants such as The Sewing Store that are expanding.

The reason The Sewing Store is expanding is that Family Video offered to buy them out of their current location to make way for a new storefront at the intersection of Leechburg and Craigdell roads.

“We’re very excited because both entrances to the town are going to be dressed up very nicely,” Regoli said.

Family Video is a fast-growing, private chain based in the Midwest that has opened a number of stores in Pennsylvania. It is the fourth-largest video chain in the country.

Family Video builds the same basic storefront at each location. The building is a one-story, red-brick structure shaped like a diamond. It is about 7,000 square feet in size.

According to the contractor handling the construction in Lower Burrell, there will be one entrance to the store that opens into the intersection of Leechburg and Craigdell roads.

Family Video claims it is unique in that it offers the latest movies at about half the price of their competitors and offers free children’s movies. It will compete against Blockbuster for video business in the city.

As for The Sewing Store, it will move and expand behind the Wash ‘N Go car wash along Leechburg Road. Owner Sandy Fink said there will be a grand reopening of the store Nov. 1.

“One of the big benefits is that it will be easier for the customers to come in and out,” Fink said.

Formerly, the business was housed in a two-story house. The new store will boast a larger classroom, more fabric area and better parking, Fink said.

“I just thought it was a good opportunity for me to get a place that was more suitable for retail,” Fink said.

In addition to offering classes, The Sewing Store sells sewing machines, fabric patterns and other sewing supplies.

Mayor Don Kinosz said businesses constantly are expressing interest in the city’s marquis storefronts, although no one has committed to a deal.

“The process doesn’t move as quickly as we’d like it to,” he said.

Nonetheless, Kinosz said an aggressive approach on the part of council has kept businesses coming into the city. He expects the process to continue and said city officials are looking for developments to happen in areas other than along Leechburg Road, such as along Greensburg Road near the Parnassus section of New Kensington.

“We have an excellent school system; we have a very low cost of living,” Kinosz said about what makes Lower Burrell attractive to businesses. “You add those things together and you have something to offer.”


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