Handful of Carlisle businesses trade places, grow into bigger stores
In Carlisle, select businesses are seeing the fruits of their hard work and an improving economy.
The best evidence for their rising tide is the fact that they're moving into new and better locations around town, which owners say will only help them build on their successes.
"We've only just begun," said Helena Twigg, owner of Helena's Chocolate Cafe & Creperie. "We're starting slow and expanding slow."
On June 19, Helena's moved closer to the square, into 36 W. High St., formerly the Green Room Bistro. It seems like a small move, but the location is better, particularly with the full kitchen that the previous location didn't have, she said.
The kitchen is a huge efficiency for her business, Twigg said. Some food preparation took two hours. Now it takes 14 minutes. It also allowed her to expand the menu with sandwiches, salads and other options.
The Green Room went out of business in February after years of struggling.
"The perfect opportunity came about," Twigg said.
From the ashes springs new life. That's the case with other businesses around Carlisle.
The California Cafe at 38 W. Pomfret St. went out of business in 2011 and its location — an old firehouse — remained empty until May, when the nonprofit Carlisle Arts Learning Center Inc., or CALC, bought the building. The move gave CALC more space for its art gallery, community classes, offices, storage and events.
It's a good move, CALC Executive Director Carrie Breschi said.
For starters, CALC's former building on North Hanover Street was purchased by Shaun and Rebecca Foote, owners of Foote Capital Mortgage, who have been acquiring and renovating buildings in the borough.
"As a not-for-profit, you can't have a mortgage sitting on your shoulders," Breschi said.
More directly, the new building is a good fit for an art gallery, and people in the community are energized by it, she said.
At the first art exhibit, 450 people showed up. The second exhibit drew 250 people, numbers that weren't possible with the smaller Hanover Street building. And at the first show, artists sold $14,000 worth of work, Breschi said. CALC receives about 35 percent from such exhibit sales.
CALC's membership also is growing, as are enrollments in youth art camps, Breschi said. On Hanover Street, between 12 and 15 kids registered for CALC's camps, Breschi said. That number has grown to an average of 20 students per camp.
"We never could've done this in the old space," Breschi said. "This summer has validated the move, totally."
In some cases, two years of 20 percent sales growth validated the need for a move. And you can't underestimate the right location, said Billy Barnett, owner of South Side Deli.
The deli at 103 E. South St. is planning to move to 46 W. High St., which Helena's just vacated, Barnett said. Dates are not finalized, but it could be soon after Labor Day, he said. The deli is successful, but it needs much more space and a visible location to capitalize on traffic from Carlisle's events, such as the iconic car shows throughout the year.
"We're only a block and a half off of Hanover Street, but we might as well be 5 miles out of town," he said.
The move will be an upgrade from South Side Deli's cramped 450-square-foot shop to the roughly 1,500-square-foot store right in the middle of Carlisle's bustling business district.
South Side Deli made the move announcement July 24 on its Facebook page.
The added space will help South Side pick up more fundraising sandwich orders, a significant part of its business, as well as move the deli closer to a core constituency of students and faculty from Dickinson College, Barnett said.
"They're piling into cars to come here," he said, "and that's when we're on the other side of town."
The return of the college from summer recess is likely to mean more business all over Carlisle, but there could be more to it than just the popularity of sandwiches, crepes and art.
And High Street will be the focus as other businesses move in or trade up for better spaces, including a new salon that's expected to move into the former Fast Eddie's billiard hall, Georgie Lou's Retro Candy & Gifts moving to the corner of Pitt and High streets, and other once-vacant stores on High and Hanover streets destined to become more as new owners renovate the buildings.
"They say the economy is getting better," Twigg said. "(Businesses) are moving from small to big spaces, so that's a good sign."