They sell jewelry, vintage albums, collectibles and electronic cigarettes and offer communication and computer services. Their businesses, on the surface, appear varied and seem to have little in common.
But, on closer review, seven Hatboro businesses have all shared the same roof. That is, all have gotten their starts, or spent time growing their ventures, at the in Warminster. Looking to expand, they separately, yet collectively, moved from the nearly 2-year-old weekend-only indoor shopping center to Hatboro’s downtown shopping district along York Road.
In all, the influx of merchants trading booths for brick and mortar storefronts in the last year represents about 10 percent of the borough’s new businesses, according to Hatboro Main Street Manager Stephen Barth.
Barth likens the 263 Marketplace to a “great feeder business incubator” for the borough.
“Small businesses making a start can test drive their businesses there and then as they grow and need a full-time space move to Hatboro where we have affordable small retail spaces,” Barth said.
Affordability, in fact, is what lured David Allen, the owner of and George Hagerty, owner of to Hatboro. Allen and Hagerty share about 1,800 square feet between their antiques/collectibles and vintage record stores, which are connected. They also share the rent, which Hagerty said is about half of what they had been paying at 263 Marketplace.
Since both work full-time jobs elsewhere, the joint store allows each to run the shop during hours that fit their schedules, in essence being open for business much more frequently than weekends at the 263 Marketplace.
“When I’m not here, he’s here,” Allen said of Hagerty.
Hagerty, a stone mason by trade and an avid record collector since age 12, said his business was one of the first to join 263 Marketplace for its fall 2010 opening, making the decision to leave a difficult one, but one he’s glad he made.
“I have twice the traffic,” Hagerty said of the store, which gets its HHH name from his last name, his wife, Anne Howieson and her son, Scott Hartkorn. “People get to come in here too and revisit their past.”
As for the Hatboro-based past of Allen’s Attic Treasures and HHH Records, the joint business is coming up on its first anniversary. While that milestone is impressive, particularly in a down economy, perhaps equally compelling is the pull the store’s success has had in persuading fellow 263 Marketplace merchants to gravitate to Hatboro.
Alongside of Allen and Hagerty’s joint business are two other ex-263 Marketplace vendors – Cricket Communications and Geordy Brothers Computers. In either direction of York Road other former 263 Marketplace neighbors, , and have cropped up in Hatboro’s downtown shopping district.
For Alan Fox, owner the 1,200-square-foot electronic cigarette shop, VaporPhoxxe, moving from the marketplace to a storefront was a necessity. Fox said he set up an 8x10 booth at the 263 Marketplace in November 2010. About a year later, he had doubled in size, but the space was still too small.
Since opening in Hatboro on June 1, instead of literally squeezing his clients into a spot, Fox offers a bar-type area where customers can pick their flavors, a “juice lab” where orders are custom-made, as well as a living room setting with comfy couches and board games, where customers can “vape.”
“We outgrew the place,” Fox said of the marketplace. “We weren’t quite sure about the viability of doing a standalone store.”
However, that uncertainty changed as soon as he and his partners saw the space, Fox said.
“This is it,” he said of the instant reaction.
Rina Elyce, owner of Rina's Rocks, which is situated next-door to VaporPhoxxe, shared similar reasons for heading south on Route 263.
“I needed to expand,” Elyce said from her 1,000-square-fit store amid calming scents, trickling water fountains, and, of course, plenty of rocks and minerals. “The bills are a little more, but I have more opportunities to be open.”