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Mountain Home Magazine

Working Together to Make It Work

Mar 01, 2024 09:00AM ● By Linda Roller

“It’s community over competition,” says Hanna Stover, from Momoyo Otsu boutique at 147 East Main. It’s the sentiment of Lock Haven’s Main Street in a nutshell, and she’s not alone in feeling that way.

Louis Anastos, owner of Stella A’s at 219 East Main and the Texas Restaurant at 204 East Main, can tell you about the tradition of community over competition. After all, he literally grew up on Main Street. His family’s home was there, close to the business district. “Main Street was where we played as kids,” he says. That was before—before the closings at Piper Aircraft, before Hammermill Paper left town, and before large nationwide stores, like Walmart and Lowe’s, had sprung up in nearby Mill Hall. Back then, Main Street was where people came to do their shopping. “I remember a traffic cop [at the west end of the business district]. He made sure people could get across the street on a Friday night.” A conversation with Lock Haven folks “of a certain age” will tell you that the Texas Restaurant, owned by the Anastos family since 1962, was one of the hubs of life here. Open twenty-four hours a day, it was the place for after-bar food, family lunches and dinners, and, of course, their famous hot dogs. “Back then,” Louis continues, “there were four to five women’s clothing stores, three men’s, and four shoe stores.” The high school was right at the edge of downtown, along with the stadium. “When the high school moved, the kids didn’t walk through town. The people going to the games were not in the city.” The remaining businesses, hurt after so much industry left, were hurt yet again.

This Main Street had, and has, a few saving graces, though. Lock Haven University, now one of three schools under the Commonwealth University of Pennsylvania umbrella, is an easy walk to downtown, with thousands of students, staff, and faculty who make their home here. Some business anchors adapted and remained. In addition to the Texas, there was an independent movie theater that hung on, and even expanded, so that there are now three screens. The Roxy at 308 East Main is a draw every night at 7:00 and for weekend matinees. There’s always been a “five and dime” store, once Woolworth’s, now Dollar General at 16 East Main. And Sand Piper Designs at 100 East Main continues, as a gift and design store.

But it takes more than that to make a downtown. Ben Green, president of Downtown Inc., explains, “We are all stakeholders here. We wear lots of hats and work together.” It took support from the city, the county, and Downtown Inc. to create and promote events that would boost traffic and interest in a growing downtown.

Oddly enough, one of the turning points for Lock Haven’s Main Street was the pandemic. Dealing with closures and mandates, businesses became creative and banded together. Louis was instrumental in pushing for the city to close the Main Street on weekends in 2020, to allow restaurants to serve customers outside. The streets filled with diners, live music and energy flowed. It was just what everybody needed. The people came—first from the city, then from the county, then from all over. Today, Louis sees people visiting from places like Lewisburg and Bloomsburg—people who will travel for a city throwing a street party, which it now does eight long weekends in the summer.

That kind of “thinking outside the shop” needs kindred spirits and energy all along the street, and in Lock Haven people with new ideas had just set up shop as the pandemic hit. According to Kira Rosamilia, tourism director at Clinton County Economic Partnership and Tourism Bureau, it was a “small business boom” started by people like Hanna Stover, who opened her own women’s boutique, and husband/wife team Larry Miller and Fabre Sanders.

In 2018, Larry and Fabre opened It Is What It Is at 109 East Main, in a part of the building owned by Fabre's family. Larry says, “It was never our intention to open a retail store with retail hours.” So for the first year, they ran the store remotely. “But 400 miles [they lived near Boston] is too far to know what was needed, so we moved.” They never looked back. By 2020, they’d hired their first employee; their candy store—the Sweet Shop—two doors down at 105 East Main opened in 2021. With Lock Haven as a center for outdoor activities in the Pennsylvania Wilds, the businesses blossomed with locals and tourists. “Tourist dollars are well spent here,” says Larry. The energy at It Is What It Is lights up a block.

Hanna worked at a boutique, CO2, that closed in 2020. “What now?” she wondered. “My dream was to own a store.” Hanna, born and raised here, knew the clients. “I told my business advisor that I wanted a corner location with lots of windows.” Nothing like that had been available in Lock Haven for a long time, but the day after she said it, Nittany Travel, a corner with lots of windows, put up a “for rent” sign. “And that was my sign,” Hanna says. The city supported with a low interest loan. Momoyo Otsu is now two storefronts, with one side dedicated to jewelry, and Hanna is partnering with Martina Guerra, a local goldsmith. Where there were no women’s clothing stores in 2019, there are now five. “If we need supplies, like tags, we can go to each other,” she says. Together, they serve the area.

The growth hasn’t stopped. The newest business is Silver Bullet Wellness at 132 East Main, Suite 7, offering massage therapy, breath coaching, hot stone treatment, facials, and mobile/pop-up options. Owners Sophia and Aidan “Aido” Gscheidle have a warm family of businesses to welcome them and to welcome all who enjoy a small, walkable city with unexpected delights.

For more information on events in downtown Lock Haven and all of Clinton County visit

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