Hatboro First Friday Canceled

The Greater Hatboro Chamber of Commerce is seeking other ideas to replace the monthly downtown arts and shopping events.

Citing ongoing and dwindling participation from borough store owners, the has resolved to begin the New Year free of First Friday events.

“I don’t see this as coming back,” Chamber President Bill George told Patch Thursday, the day before the January First Friday would have been held. “We just had a lot of problems with it. The merchants I don’t think like it as much as they did.”

Chief among the problems, according to George, are the throngs of teens who frequently stand outside of the and . Hatboro Police Chief James Gardner said previously that his officers had received multiple calls on First Fridays because of kids loitering and fighting.

“The one night the police had to call Upper Moreland Police to assist," George said. "That’s probably the number one reason it’s going.”

shared by police and elected officials. Since then, he said the borough had asked the Chamber to cover the expense of having extra police on duty for First Fridays – something George said the organization could not afford to do.

First Friday, which features vendors selling various wares and musicians performing in front of businesses along York Road, began in April 2008. First Friday event chairman Marty Palmer told Patch last spring that 30 businesses participated and more than 500 people came to town.

“The idea was to bring people, walk around,” George said. “And then they come back.”

But, what good is walking around a borough when businesses are closed by 6 p.m. – at the peak of traffic?

said he’s working with business owners to see if they would be willing to expand their hours. To date, one-third to one-half of the restaurants are open for dinner, he said.

“If the entire town is closed then people within the community are going to look at other places to go eat,” Barth said. “We have a very walkable town. If things are open, people will go.”

Bill Brusca, owner of said his Fridays and Saturdays have always been historically busy.

"Even without it I’m still going to have Fridays be the busiest day of the week," Brusca said, adding that he would support another similar event. "It was nice to see the crowds fill the streets of Hatboro."

Along with longer hours for other restaurants in town, events like First Friday are important to Hatboro, Barth said, adding that he had not heard it had been “officially” canceled.

“I like a First Friday,” Barth said. “I hope they can continue that because I think it’s a positive thing in the borough.”

In place of First Friday, George said the Chamber is kicking around “three or four concepts of some neat ideas.”

“We’re not really at the point where we’re ready to announce what we’re going to do,” he said. “We’re thinking about doing something similar that will happen on a Saturday afternoon.”

Chris Gowen, owner of , said without a First Friday, his business stands to lose $300 to $500 a month in sales.

“It’s been very successful for us to stay open later on Fridays,” said Gowen, who, like Barth, was surprised about hearing that First Friday had been canceled. “I’m disappointed that the Chamber didn’t reach out to the stores and say ‘we’re not going to do this now.’ ”

Gowen, who also serves as president of , said First Fridays double as recruiting nights for potential volunteer firefighters.

“That’s the only really good time we have to get out and meet people in town,” Gowen said.

And while his store customers have made comments to him about loitering teens, Gowen said that isn’t reason enough to cancel First Friday.

“McDonald’s does have a security person," Gowen said. “When he’s out there, the kids clear.”

Gowen said he supports doing a similar event on Saturdays. Without a collaborative effort among the business community, Gowen said, “what reason would other people have to come into Hatboro?”

Theresa Katalinas (Editor) January 07, 2012 at 06:57 PM
MJG: Main Street Hatboro has many purposes and I'm sure the Main Street manager or any of the volunteers could provide more info than I could. But, for starters, the Main Street manager helps shop vacancies to prospective business owners. If you're looking to open a business in Hatboro, Steve Barth is the guy you want to see. He is the borough's biggest cheerleader, knows virtually everything about the businesses, good places to eat, etc. He coordinates with the owners/realtors of vacant sites like the Old Mill Inn, Big Marty's etc. and works to fill them. He played a large role in the former Wendy's being opened as New Galaxy Diner. He also works with individual business owners on ideas to better promote their business and problem solves on solutions to help each be successful. When Quig's had to be closed after Hurricane Irene, Steve Barth was there to lend a hand. He helped Quig's owners move into the old Dunkin' Donuts building and that restaurant is expected to reopen in a week or so.
Theresa Katalinas (Editor) January 07, 2012 at 06:59 PM
A point of clarification: The Main Street Manager does not make $80,000 a year. I believe it's more in the neighborhood of $37,500 a year. He is a part-time contractor for Hatboro and is the only person from Main Street who receives a check from Hatboro. Everyone else is volunteer.
MJG January 07, 2012 at 07:55 PM
Thanks Theresa. I’m certainly glade that the manager seems to be effective. However, I question why local taxpayer dollars fund this position? Aren’t we in essence duplicating the service of the chamber at the expense of the taxpayer?
April Fox Regan January 07, 2012 at 08:41 PM
I don't have a problem with some of my tax dollars going to support the quality of the community I live in. While I do agree that something seems amiss in the Chamber. And thanks for the clarification Theresa. And I agree with JR. I like those business, too. Did not mean to insinuate with my earlier comments that Hatboro had no fun or interesting businesses, only that things were going in the wrong direction in the past 2 or 3 years. I really miss that cute little antique store that used to be next to the record store (also sad they closed. )
Leslie J January 07, 2012 at 08:47 PM
I agree with you, April, Dan, and Kathy. The slow death of First Fridays, in my experience, can be attributed to the lack of stores in which people can shop. I am one of many residents I know who would be happy to spend money in our local businesses, but am forced to shop elsewhere. Over the years, I have seen a number of interesting places close, and become replaced with shops that do not provide close to the same services and products, and I truly scratch my head. What is happening that we are not comparable to a Doylestown, Jenkintown, or Ambler? As community members, to whom do we voice our concerns and opinions? Borough Council? The Chamber of Commerce? Main Street Hatboro? It seems that people are ready to be heard...
Toni Kistner January 08, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Ok I have have to chime in here...contrary to the comments above, Hatboro is a very busy place - I live and work here. Every day I see the full parking lots and parking spaces, the busy foot traffic, the busy stores and restaurants....friendly people greeting each other on the streets and in the stores. Just a few weeks ago, I saw two elderly women trip on the side walk and fall down in front of the post office. No less than SIX strangers stopped to help them stand up. We all made sure that they were alright and steady before moving on.....I don't see this "fading town at the crossroads" that you people are talking about. Not at all! Hatboro was always a no-frills town. The boutique stores gift shops have gone out of business because there was not enough business. The hardware store, Produce Junction, thrift shops, drug stores, auto shops, hair salons, etc -- they all do well here and therefore stay in business. I'd bet that any one of those gift shops that closed here due to lack of business, would probably have done well in Doylestown, Jenkintown, Peddler's Village or New Hope. But why does this have to be a problem? What's wrong with a small business-type town? It's a place to go and get your errands done - what's wrong with that? Maybe we need to let go of this illusion that Hatboro needs to be like other towns. Just let it be Hatboro.
Shane January 09, 2012 at 02:34 PM
So whats the next thing cancel the car show, the carnavil,Hatboro haunts. Let's just make Hatboro a gost town that people just drive through on there way to Warminster, Willow Grove, Horsham & Phily, this is just my opinion.
Terri January 09, 2012 at 02:51 PM
It sounds like there are a lot of people interested in making Main Street a better place. I for one am one of them! Did the people of Ambler form an organization of volunteers for their Main Street? I would be willing to dedciate my time towards this cause. Would anyone else be willing to get something moving?
April Fox Regan January 09, 2012 at 09:01 PM
BINGO! I would be delighted to be involved in a resident-based community action oganization to improve the quality of life in Hatboro. I've never been in anything like that and don't know how to start one, but anyone else got any ideas? My husband is a freelance artist who works from home. He could even do a web site and logo and related informational flyers and stuff if I twisted his arm.
April Fox Regan January 09, 2012 at 09:02 PM
And, goodness knows, I like to run my mouth off. ha ha
April Fox Regan January 09, 2012 at 09:03 PM
Go Shane...
April Fox Regan January 09, 2012 at 09:12 PM
What does "quality of life" mean for you?? Let me know! For me, it means fun, interesting shops as well as practical shops (like hardware stores and produce places and nail salons). It means concern for environment, parks and stuff, protection of open space, arts, festivals, music, nice little places to hang out and chat like coffee houses and craft fairs. What's most important is a feeling of community.
April Fox Regan January 09, 2012 at 09:15 PM
Terri -- I've worked in Jenkintown for over 20 years and have some friends down here. I know Jenkintown residents are on top of things like City Council meetings. They always have a big turnout. School board meetings too. But I also think that the local system down here in Jenkintown is more transparent.
Terri January 10, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I agree with you April in your examples of a better quality of life. I live in Hatboro and although there have been improvements to Main Street; I feel a lot more could be done to encourage the right type of businesses to want to do business here. I was very saddened after reading Wawa wanting to build at the corner of Horsham and York Roads. If they keep knocking down the buildings unique to Hatboro, there will be no history or charm left of this town. Just a bunch of Dunkin Donuts and Wawa’s!!!!
Terri January 10, 2012 at 02:38 PM
I have been reading Patch for a while now. Here are some of the things I think people in the community would welcome: -A smoke free micro brew type of restaurant where people could go for a quick beer and a bite to eat. Maybe catch some of the game. I am not talking a seedy bar, but more of like a K.C.’s Alley in Ambler. Good food and drinks at a reasonable price without that shady bar feel. I feel there are a lot of sports fans that would love a place like this in this town. -Somewhere for kids to want to go. I have no kids and teenagers do not bother me. I do feel bad for them though because there really isn’t anywhere for them to go?? An inexpensive way to figure out what is considered “cool” for teens is to start up a facebook page and encourage them to post what the kids of Hatboro would like to see on Main Street. Instead of people complaining about them all the time give them a voice too! - A good byob that couples / parents could walk to for a date night? Augusto’s in Warminster (Madison Avenue) is a perfect example of a restaurant I think would do really well on Main Street. That place is always packed. Not overly expensive but great food for a night out. They are just some of my ideas however I have a ton more. I think if the community comes together instead of posting on Patch we could really make a difference in improving the quality of life on Main Street. We pay enough taxes around here why shouldn’t we be heard!
Scott Johnson January 10, 2012 at 03:11 PM
I agree with all of your suggestions, however the main street manager is thinking along those lines in convincing businesses and property owners that this would benefit both of them. Yea, I've always liked K.C's Alley and go to Mike's bar and grill a bit (and Iron Abby) something in Hatboro would just make it easier!
Kim January 10, 2012 at 03:45 PM
I would love to be part of a resident group here. The new wawa idea is terrible, first friday should stay and the police need to take back control of this town from teenagers. A resident group sounds great. Im a homeowner gere and lived around the area my whole life.
April Fox Regan January 10, 2012 at 04:31 PM
Boro Council Meeting, Monday night January 23rd. Loller Academy. Mark your calendars. Let's all be there!
Terri January 10, 2012 at 05:04 PM
I am there! I am on the webiste looks like it starts at 7?
April Fox Regan January 10, 2012 at 05:16 PM
A friend of mine who has been to a BC meeting before told me 7, so I'm sure that's right. Although I'm ashamed to admit I've never been to one myself before, I will be there with at least a half dozen other friends and neighbors. Let's give 'em hell!! Looking forward to meeting you, Terri. You and I seem to be on the same page about a lot of things.
Kim January 10, 2012 at 08:05 PM
I will be there as well. So will my boyfriend who I live with. He is also a lifelong Hatboro resident.
Leslie J January 11, 2012 at 12:22 AM
I don't think anyone is calling the niceness of the residents into question. And I make it a point to shop in town when I can. The issue is that the "small business-type" (?) stores don't seem to be enough to attract the shoppers needed to sustain the First Friday concept. I also know, in response to Terri's question below, that Ambler Main Street's website states that "more than a hundred" volunteers from the community make up that organization...wow!
Leslie J January 11, 2012 at 12:23 AM
April Fox Regan January 11, 2012 at 02:39 AM
See Hatboro Life Page on Facebook!
kingz of fadez barbershop January 13, 2012 at 01:17 PM
the one thing i don't get , is how my business gives a poor image to the neighborhood when we are not on main street ? we strive for perfection, we are best at what we do, it doesn't take 15-20 minutes for the service we provide, when people leave our shop , they know the got the best service. please stop the negative comments about my business because there is nothing wrong with been busy , no one is in business to lose money,
April Fox Regan January 14, 2012 at 05:25 PM
Upon speaking to some civic leaders in other towns about their First Fridays, I discovered that the actual businesses and residents plan and organize these events -- not their local chambers of commerce. Although I don't know much about our Chamber here in Hatboro, it could be argued that any COC is not primarily interested in what's good for a community -- the residents and not even the majority of local businesses. A Chamber of Commerce is concerned with Commerce -- money (in the short-term) and I don't think our COC should be allowed to make a unilateral decision that apparently many residents and at least some businesses don't agree with. Might we have one of the businesses owners who want FF to continue poll all the businesses along downtown and, if the majority want FF, get a petition going to present to Boro Council. A civic organization? Do we have one?
justamom January 21, 2012 at 03:13 PM
What time is the meeting on Monday, I would also like to be there
Joseph Holzer January 25, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Don't worry Shane I don't think that as a cruiser anyone will let that happen. I think we all need to organize as one...the cruisers,residents,business owners and parents to let the COC know what they think is not what the Hatboro people want. There's no doubt this is tied to this WAWA proposal concerning traffic etc.
Martin kelly April 22, 2012 at 10:35 PM
I agree!... The town is taking on the appearance of a ghetto retail strip...but the kind of stores associated with decent retail areas won't come here because there is limited foot traffic and high rents...the chains aren't going to come here and deal with some local retail little shot screaming about their customers parking in 'his' spot either...why buy paint or hardware from guys with attitudes when i can go to home depot in five minutes?


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