Pattye Benson

Community Matters

Another Store Closing in Tredyffrin . . . A Suggestion for a Business Task Force

Another store closing and leaving Tredyffrin. I received a tip from a local resident that yesterday was to be Tuesday Morning’s last day and I paid them a visit. Yes, after 7 years at the Swedesford Road (Rt. 252) location in Devon, the doors closed at 7 PM last night. In discussion with one of the sales people, I was told that the 10 employees plus the store manager only received 2 weeks notice of the closing. The discount chain itself is not closing (only the Tredyffrin location) but unfortunately, these employees were not offered positions elsewhere. The older clerk was very upset; she had been with the store since its opening and was not encouraged about employment options in Tredyffrin.

I was told that Tuesday Morning did not renew its lease at the Tredyffrin location because the township was not friendly toward business. Not sure if the remark was intended toward the township officials or toward the shoppers? Regardless of the remarks intent, it got me to thinking. When I attended the interim supervisor interviews, the three supervisors who conducted the interviews (Bob Lamina, Michele Kichline and Phil Donahue) were asked by the candidates what ‘they’ viewed were some of the challenges facing the township.

In light of the many empty storefronts in the township, the supervisors listed attracting new businesses at the top of the challenge list. I agree that encouraging new business growth is essential but equally important, is how can we support the businesses that we have?

I wonder if a township business task force would help . . . a volunteer group of local retired executives, small business owners, and corporate representatives. The group would meeting monthly with a mission to spearhead ways to improve existing relationships and provide assistance and a resource for township businesses. This important support group for the business community could provide regular updates and suggestions to the Board of Supervisors. Just an idea . . .

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  1. I think the local employees would be the last to understand the complexities of how their site looked on a spreadsheet. Tuesday Morning is based in Dallas TX — they had a previous location behind Burger King in Paoli. That closed about the time that the Valley Fair location opened. When VF opened, there was a Linens and Things, a restaurant, and a long-established furniture store next door. None of that is true any longer, and the site is not particularly visible from any major traffic artery. So I doubt that the township has anything to do with this. And as the Wegman lovers head off to their location, keep in mind you are putting places like Acme and other sites in danger of meeting similar fates. One thing comes, another thing goes….The original business model for Tuesday Morning was a large warehouse, no frills, open for 4 weeks 4-6 times a year. They want visibility, not amenities. No one shops there anymore….

    Music fair lovers? Any thoughts now ?

    1. Music Fair: Yes–a music venue would be awesome.

      Or PF Chang’s–upscale and a draw. They love suburban locations, so why not here?

      1. Uh — the Music fair was shut down and demolished….replaced by a GIANT grocery, replaced by Linens and Things and Petsmart (with B&N in the driveway)

  2. Do organizations such as the Main Line Chamber of Commerce, the Berwyn Devon Business Association & the Paoli Business & Professional Association already act as advocates for business sustainability and growth?

    I saw online that the MLCC has a comprehensive 2010 Government Affairs Committee Legislative Agenda covering laws and issues affecting business and economic development locally, as well as statewide and nationally…

    1. The business associations only support their paid members. I was suggesting that the task force could help those considering a move to the township or support those already here — a township-wide support group vs dedicated to a specific business area. As a former board member of the Paoli Business & Professional Association, they are focused only on those that are members of their association.

  3. I disagree that few people shopped at Tuesday Morning. It was a destination store — folks went out of their way to get to it. Me included and I’m disappointed. No question, though, that the rest of Valley Fair shopping district is a geographically undesirable no-man’s land. The independent toy store next to Cosi is joining the list of shut down shops later this month.

        1. it was originally in the depot shoppes in Paoli…you can go on to see the locations in our area already.

    1. I think there are still a few TMs in the area….and I agree that it was a destination store, but the “strip center” had ceased to be a destination. You had to drive all the way up to the TM store to see if it was open…that’s not the way that business model works…

      I think the Chambers of Commerce (Chester County) do what Pattye suggests — as does the Dept of Econ. Development at the state level, but I don’t know how it would work for a township?

      1. Talk to Rep. Kampf. He’s on the committee for Labor and Industry. I’m sure he and his office will be chock full of ideas.


        To mimic someone else on this blog: John, there are 12 step programs for issues like yours.

        I am certain that this store closed because of Mr. Kampf’s election. If i were to make comments that after two years of Mr. Drucker’s tenure it was forced to close, you would call this absurd. Well, your point is just as absurd.

        I think that TM closed for a more simple reason: people didn’t shop there. That’s why stores close.

        Occasionally, your hatred blinds you to any logic except your own.

        However, you are right about the local and state chambers, and the township could do the same. But the reality is that the economy is tough and PA is not the most business friendly state (which is one reason the latest census shows us people moving out of PA to other states.) The township alone cannot fix this. Other municipalities have tried tax breaks and other incentives, which are detrimental and unfair to other taxpayers. The points Mr. Kampf did put forth in his campaign and since focus on adjusting the state’s approach to business to make it more like those states where businesses (and jobs and population) are heading. Fixing the global problem is the best idea, but since Kampf supports it I am sure you will hate it.

      2. Here we go again with the mindless Warren Kampf Bashing by John Petersen.

        O.K. John Petersen: If the State Rep is somehow responsible for the success or failure of local businesses, then Paul Drucker must be responsible for the demise of Tuesday Morning because Warren Kampf only took office 30 days ago.

        If we carry Petersen logic even further, it appears that Paul Drucker must also have been responsible for the closing of the Genuardi’s in Chesterbrook, the Oskar Huber Furniture, the Circuit City, Charlie Brown’s Restaurant, Dylan’s Restaurant, and so many other stores in Town. I thought many of these stores went bankrupt on a national level, but Petersen apparently thinks the State Rep from the 157th could have prevented them from failing.

        Please John Petersen, tell us exactly how Paul Drucker screwed up so badly. That way Warren Kampf can learn from Paul Drucker’s failures and avoid making similar mistakes in the future.

        Seriously though Petersen. . .what do you think the State Rep realistically could be doing to prevent stores from closing? [NOTE: Bet Petersen will avoid answering this question and instead will just hurl some insults my way]

      3. the fact is neither Drucker nor Kampf can do anything about the store closings, whether in Paoli or along Swedesford Road.

        Unemployment is almost 10 % or even higher, businesses are suffering, people are worried and not spending.
        So you can bash Drucker, you can bash kampf, who has barely started. The bottom line is that all the government funds allocated to say PTS or any endeavor can great tempory contruction jobs, but it cannot sustain a private roobust economy. That being said, government can do great harm, or get out of the way. Let”s look at rising gas prices. Rising food prices. these are “taxes” on people who could otherwise use some of that money for other goods and services. There is alot here. Bigger than one man, unless you are President.

      4. Actually, JP, contacting your Rep’s office is fine.

        I believe what people “construed as bashing” is the snarky “I’m sure he will be chock full of ideas” statement.

        Again, i know i am wasting time typing b/c your hatred seems to know no bounds for Mr. Kampf, but at least read your own posts every now and then.

        If you did, when called to carpet on them at the BOS did to you, you won’t state “I never used bad language” and then have your own posts put forth to show everyone you, in fact, did.

  4. I seem to recall the BOS discussing a change in zoning for the Valley Fair area within the last couple of years and deciding that there was no change needed. The premise was that a change would make the site more attractive to other types if development. Perhaps they need to rethink that decision

  5. I believe the key to viability in Valley Fair is a great restaurant at the old Charlie Brown’s location. Good restaurants in our area (and C.B. was quite poor) draw a tremendous number of people, and the adjoining merchants benefit from the traffic.

    Barnes & Noble is always packed – so people have no problem finding the location – there just has to be a compelling reason to stay.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Barnes & Noble packed and then across the parking lot the old Linen & Things box store sits empty. How long as it been? And I really miss that store. A year ago, the real estate agent for Centro (the same agent handling both Centro properties – Chesterbrook & Valley Fair) told me that he had leased the restaurant and someone would be in by August – and that didn’t happen! Of course, this is the same guy that told me that Genuradi’s space was leased to Bottom Dollar, only to find out that wasn’t the case! I think that Centro Properties might want to find a better agent . . . ?

    2. While a good restaurant would help, Charlie Brown’s followed a good restaurant….or at least a popular one in its day — Gators was a busy place with TV screens and more. Famlies went on weekends and they had the John the Balloon guy magician work the tables. This community just has a short attention span.

      Cannot remember what else has been there, but when a strip mall has no major tenant, it isn’t likely to survive unless the access to it is convenient. You have to be GOING to Valley Fair to be at Valley Fair. (Hence the survival of barnes and Noble — next stop, the mall) To get to that area, the 202 access going South is almost unavailable. (That was one of the things I had talked to the Turf Club man about way back when….Tredyffrin cops used to do ‘license checks’ on the guests to the Music fair that were exiting at the Devon Exit going south. Convinced Green that he wouldn’t sell enough alcohol at a turf club and couldn’t claim harrassment because it was part of their routine in the area.

  6. This issue is very clear.

    The rent on the main line is just too damn high.

    The owners of these buildings purchased these buildings in a time when commercial real estate in this area was a prime and then some. After years of economic decline, mortgages for these buildings have not changed. Meaning that the retail rent rates for the Radnor/Tredyffrin/Easttown main line area are really quite high. It’s above the capacity and capability of stores to handle in this climate.

    It’s very simple. As a business, if $ becomes an issue, you begin to lay off people (usually your largest expense), then if that doesn’t work, you are left with a rent you have trouble meeting. When it comes time to renew a lease, if the landlord doesn’t work with you, then it’s time to go.

  7. Barnes and Noble IS a destination location, open long hours and many miles from the closest bookstore. Yet, you have seen discussion of B&N merging with Borders…because the business model has changed with e-readers and online purchasing. With that effort quashed, Borders (despite being the 2nd largest chairn) is considering bankruptcy reorganization protection. Locally, the B&N is an island. Years ago before Circuit City, that was office space. There was an effort by Greenwood to build a Turf Club there. Lots of community fighting and Greenwood grew a brain and realized the site has no easy access….a service road is NOT an ideal location for any major retail.

    L&T and the pet store took over space that was originally a GIANT grocery story.

    We need to come to terms with the fact that the unemployment rate is real — and growth is happening, but not much in the US. John P can bash WK for every reason we consider, but the US Government needs to figure out why companies are only hiring in India and China…or not why, but how to change that. The World is Flat…and so is the future.

  8. give it a rest, you have nailed it. look what has happened to the Upper Merion Golf course. That was supposed to be completed in 2007 I think and not withstanding the weather the construction is slowed to a Wegmans. Before bad weather set in, it seemed construction has halted.

    The economy is the reason. Good stores at good rent in a good economy can work.. Golf anyone?

  9. We forget that even the furniture store was a BEST ….and sat empty when BEST went out of business. Circuit City and Linens and Things didn’t close because of local rents. White Dog Cafe in Wayne is going to put other businesses out of business…and I read today’s paper and was appalled that they were approved for 63 seats and opened with 175 or so. What kind of building inspector gave them their CO?
    Dan Rather Reports (HDNet – Available On Demand Until: Mon, Feb 28th Dan Rather Reports: Help Wanted! (Not Here)
    American high-tech companies have been laying off thousands of workers in Silicon Valley but they’re hiring like mad in India. Plus, the President’s plan to sell American goods overseas that he believes will create jobs at home.
    Comcast 897 and Verizon 569 — ON Demand (HD content unfortunately). Worth 55 minutes of your time to be sure. We need to think globally…because even good stores at good rent will ONLY work in a good economy.

  10. Don’t know who you are ‘give it a rest’ but you certainly know about everything. I just discovered this blog and have been reading comments posted the last couple of weeks. I don’t think it matters what the topic is, you seem to have knowledge on the subject.

  11. Sorry about that Int. Res — this recent weather has limited my ability to go out and talk to people….so I talk here. But I have lived here almost my whole life…and growing up, my neighbors were very engaged (zoning hearing board when Chesterbrook was being considered; school board when the schools were sold;). If I liked politics, I’d really enjoy all this action, but I think politics is what breaks the pace of living.

  12. All you have to do is drive down route thirty and see how many stores have closed to remind all of us just how bad things are. This is such a complex mess not one that the chamber or Local Government can fix. I appreciate the nice thoughts: that some incentive or local tax help would make the difference. It won’t. The sad truth is its going to get worse before it gets better. Genco olive oil wouldn’t be able to survive this economy. Its nice to see all the intelligent and well thought out ideas, but I am a realist, and when your bussiness is down sixty percent, it gets a little tough to pay main line rents and bring home a couple of fasul’s, capito?
    The Don, may he rest in peace, would be forced into taking “the turks” offer rather then air out his melon :)
    Buona Notte, ciao

  13. Pattye: You can add the Blockbuster Video in Paoli to the list of stores that are closing their doors.

    The clerk at the store said that he had just come from closing a Blockbuster in Newtown Square, and that the Paoli branch would be closing in March.

    Now, John Petersen will no doubt claim that Warren Kampf could have prevented Blockbuster’s demise, but in reality, the chain has been closing stores throughout the country (try to find a Blockbuster anywhere in the New York area or in New Jersey), and financial experts perdict that the company will go bankrupt before year’s end.

    The truth is that the once mighty Blockbuster (which was responsible for putting all of those Mom and Pop video stores out of business 15 years ago) is now a failed business model.

    Today, people use Netflix, Redbox and computer downloads for their video viewing needs. In addition, you can get a whole selection of recent videos from your local public library; which at $1.50 for a weekly rental is a real bargain.

    Your local government officials can do nothing to prevent the bankruptcies of nationwide retail chains such as Blockbuster, Circuit City, Oskar Huber, or Linen-in-Things. These chains are the victim of the Worldwide economic downturn.

    By the same token, independent local stores are also subject to many of the same economic stresses that have doomed these bigger chains.

    As for Tuesday Morning (which is a chain store out of Texas): it sold some interesting knick knacks, but people who are tightening their belts are not going to spend on brick-a-brac.

    1. Thanks for the update on Blockbuster. Frankly, I am surprised that it lasted as long as it did. When the branch closed on 252 in Berwyn, I figured that Paoli would not be far behind — but they hung in there several more years.

      I was talking to a friend yesterday and we were saying that it is almost daily that you hear about another store closing. But how often do you hear of new ones opening? That’s why I will go out of my way to mention places like Jakes and Martini’s in Paoli — they both opened in 2010 with the economic gloom. We need to help new businesses, if we can.

      On that note, if you haven’t tried Grappa Cafe in Paoli (former Fellini’s spot) you need to — fabulous Italian restaurant! It’s a BYOB, and short of a trip to southern Italy, in my opinion it’s the best Italian place around. Here’s the website:

      1. Pattye,
        Fran and I haven’t tried Grappa yet. I am glad to here you like it, you’re the second person I know to say so. We’ll have to try it out. Another new one that I personally recommend is Alfredo’s in Berwyn (where the original San Nicola was) They also are a BYOB and have some incredible authentic Italian cuisine. The eggplant was right up there with the best I have ever eaten.

    2. What does not compute is your endless obsession with Warren Kampf.

      In 3 of your posts in response to this story alone you call on people to bombard Warren Kampf’s Office with calls demanding to know how is he going to prevent these national chains from either closing some of their underperforming stores or going bankrupt.

      Your justification for doing so is that because Warren is on the Labor & Industry Committee he must have an answer on how to reverse what is both a nationwide and Worldwide economic crisis.

      If that is your justification, then why have you not asked people to call State Senator Andrew Dinniman’s Office to find out his solutions for economic recovery? After all, Andrew Dinniman is a member of the Sentate’s “Community, Economic and Recreational Development Committee”. Thus, by your logic, his position on this Committee means that he should have some answers for us.

      In addition, as a Senator, Dinniman possesses far more power than a State Legislator to enact economic reforms.

      Finally, Dinniman has been in power for more than half a decade, while Warren just got sworn in a month ago. Shouldn’t he have some solutions after a tenure of this length?

      So why are you not advocating that people call on Dinniman for answers? The reason is that we both know that neither a State Senator nor a State House Representative has any power to prevent national (i.e. Blockbuster, Circuit City, Tuesday Morning) and regional (i.e. Oskar Huber and Genuardis) chains from going out of business or closing down retail stores.

      So lets stop the games. If you want to go after Warren Kampf. . .fine. But at least go after him for something that he has some control over. The Worldwide economy. . .like the weather. . .happens to be one of those things that are beyond his powers to change.

    3. Yawn. . .John Petersen can only hurl insults at his opponent, but he is incapable of being able to respond to arguments made by that opponent.

      The reason why you engage in these ad hominem rhetorical fallacies is because your arguments lack the substance to persuade or win on their own merit.

      Predictably Petersen.

    4. “the house GOP is spending more time figuring out how to remove Democrats from committees. I’m sure to the folks that can’t find work, that comes as a big comfort. ”

      That is comforting, considering that removing Democrats from power is a vital first step towards economic recovery.

  14. Only in the movies :)
    I have seen the preparation of a lot of food and admit I never saw anyone do that other then in the movie “Good Fellows”. I will give one secret up though, to those who would make their own gravy. You know how the oil always separates and floats on top? Here is a secret ;) Once you have your tomatoes simmering, you brown your garlic in a generous amount of olive oil. Now bring the tomatoes temperature way, way up and stir quickly. Slowly, very slowly pour in the olive oil and garlic and continue stirring quickly until the oil is gone and the gravy looks like red velvet. Stirring the whole time remove from heat to allow the temperature to come down so you don’t burn it and put it on another burner on low for several hours. That’s top secret so you didn’t hear it from me.

  15. that was a great scene, the cooking lesson.. as he pushes the meatballs and sausage into the pan.. Michael tell her you love her… great scene!

  16. Pattye,

    Any takers on the Business Task Force?

    I have a few no cost/low cost, fairly uncomplicated ideas–

    ****** Perhaps we could suggest to the BOS that we add a “Doing Business in Tredyffrin” page to our Twp website.

    Below is an example from Cranberry Twp, PA’s website.

    Cranberry Township PA

    Doing Business in Cranberry
    Scroll down for links to Business Resources.

    Business Permit Fees
    The Township’s schedule of fees for various inspections, technical reviews, utility services, rentals, permits and application approvals.

    Business Taxes
    How the Township administers its Business Privilege tax on service providers and its Mercantile tax on the sale of goods.

    Building & Zoning Codes / Permits
    Two types of Township-issued permit applications help to verify code compliance in construction. See which one is right for you.

    Commuting to and from work is a free resource for both businesses and residents, offered through the Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission to expand ridesharing options. Help is available to local employers and commuters, to match their travel needs with alternatives to driving alone. Commuter Choice currently allows employers to offer their employees a tax free fringe benefit of up to $230 per month if they ride transit or a vanpool to get to work.

    Diverse Cranberry Resources related to Cranberry’s increasingly diverse community.

    Doing Business in Cranberry
    A pocket guide summarizing the regulations, resources, and permitting procedures needed for a successful startup in Cranberry Township.

    Economic Development
    Demographic and infrastructure profile of Cranberry including several Township-issued guides for local business.

    Home-based Business
    Permit application for home-based business and commercial activities in Cranberry Township.

    Licenses, Permits & Regulations
    Chapter 13 of the Township’s Municipal Code includes detailed information about all forms of local business licensing and regulation.

    Sign Regulations brochure presents a quick overview of Cranberry’s regulations on commerical signage. Exterior signage is regulated the Township’s Zoning Ordinance.

    Township Bids & Contacts
    Receive email notifications with details about current bids and contracts, for products and services that Cranberry is looking to buy.

    Wastewater Treatment Ordinance Cranberry’s Wastewater Pretreatment Program is designed to keeping undesirable substances from getting into its sewage treatment system.

    Zoning for Business
    Chapter 27 of the Township Code identifies the categories of business activity permitted in different areas of Cranberry. (251 p. PDF document)

    Business Resources

    THE CHAMBER of Commerce, Inc. serving North Pittsburgh, Northern Allegheny and Cranberry corridors.

    The Cranberry Area Chamber of Commerce and the Northern Allegheny County Chamber of Commerce merged in early 2010. Membership consists of 1,100 business owners and business represenatives. The footprint of THE CHAMBER of Commerce, Inc. extends from Zelienople to the Allegheny River; Rt. 8 into Beaver County; covering three counties, Allegheny, Beaver, and Butler, and 16 municipalities. Membership ranges from sole propietors to large corporations, non profits and individuals who are interested in supporting the business community.

    Business Parks
    The Southwestern Pennsylvania Commission has compiled information about 25 business, office, and industrial parks in or near Cranberry.

    ***** The Chester County Library has on staff a full-time Business Librarian that does outreach programs. Perhaps we could hold a Small Business Day program locally at the Tredyffrin Library. Make use of our wonderful new computer lab! Our public libraries have wonderful products (ie databases) and services (interlibrary loan) that small business owners would find helpful. And I’m not just saying this because I’m a professional librarian ;)

    Below is the link to the copy of the CCLS’s Fall 2010 Business News

    **** We could survey our residents. Ask ourselves, what businesses would you like to see open locally? Is there a service or product that is obviously lacking? I would love to have an Indian restaurant open up somewhere along Lancaster Avenue in the Devon/Berwyn area!! And a women’s footwear store specializing in leather boots and shoes. (I can’t stand vinyl and plastic!) And perhaps a humble dollar store.

    Maybe Main Line Media’s Suburban newspaper would be interested in surveying its readers and printing the results.

    1. Christine — These are great ideas. BTW, I believe that having a Business Task Force could only help ‘positively’. I know that there are limits what could be done on a local level . . . but this kind of group could be a staart.

    2. Tough to bring an Indian restaurant to Devon with Himalayan (yum!) nearby in Frazer, and several in the area of 202 and 252, but there may be enough separation – especially in Berwyn.

  17. Christine & Pattye – The Business Task Force would work well with a number cruncher, a marketing person, a research librarian and someone with a commercial real estate background. They could form alliances with the Chambers of Commerce to court national chains that are expanding to try to woo them to Tredyffrin, and with the Centro’s and other developers with empty space. The marketing person could create an info package showing all the great things our township has to offer a business tenant….affluent shoppers, population density, easy access to major interstate highways, etc. etc. Years ago my daughter interned at the Suburban and interviewed the manager of the brand new Five Guys burger shop in Gateway. He said Five Guys’ real estate folks chose that location because every other store in Gateway that was part of a national chain was one of their chain’s top performers. The Swedesford corridor has a lot of drawbacks vs. Gateway (the old right hand turn access thing for one), but with a few strong anchors a lot could change. We need a proactive volunteer group to lure businesses here!

  18. I don’t know if someone has said so here, but I was in the book warehouse today and they told me that they are closing because someone big took over the lease of the whole building….does anyone know if this is true? (it would explain the closing of Tuesday Morning as well)

    1. I was told by someone ‘in the know’ that a major furniture store was coming in to the space. But having had the experience of Centro’s representatives ‘stretching’ the lease signing on Genuardi’s in Chesterbrook, I don’t want to definitely say the bookstore space is 100% leased. But I hope that it true!

  19. that;s unfortunate. furniture stores are almost 100% commission .. and based on the failure of Oskar Huber, the closing of Levitz in K of P, and countless other stores closing (and no housing starts), not sure the demographics calls for that entry. Oh well — better than dead space. The community would probably fight a movie theater…but it sure would be an improvement and wouldn[‘t draw traffic during working hours.

  20. Chester County Economic Development Council — they even have a facebook page. I’m not looking to do business here, but they are a very active and very involved / proactive group. Check it out.

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