SCRANTON, LACKAWANNA COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — As the pandemic took a toll on many existing businesses throughout Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania, some actually opened up shop for the first time.
A corner building in downtown Scranton was Samters Department Store for decades, before it was converted to lofts up above and just this year, a ground floor coffeehouse.
“We conceived the idea in the summer of 2019. We did our due diligence. We never anticipated the pandemic,” said Tom Bonin, owner of Commonwealth Coffeehouse.
Customers are now able to frequent the freshly brewed coffee business, its deli, or even browse its in-store boutique, which you couldn’t for months due to COVID mitigation efforts.
“It was one whack after the other,” said Bonin.
It was the same story a couple of blocks away at The Mane Room on Wyoming Avenue near Spruce Street.
Kristen Schoonmaker dreamed of running her own hair salon since she was a teenager. She spent much of 2020 renovating a vacant barbershop to make her dream come true.
“I had already started purchasing things and the pandemic happened. No turning back! Absolutely not,” said Schoonmaker.
It meant running the salon alone for months with one masked customer at a time and by appointment only. That changed this past April when, as the sign says, “Walkens Welcome” and Schoonmaker hired another hairstylist.
“They always say the first year is the hardest, so I kept telling myself, ‘get through this year. It’s even harder.’ You know, it’s definitely rewarding,” stated Schoonmaker.
“They were already on pace. They were in preparation for opening and they just couldn’t stop, and so they have been fantastic,” said Bob Durkin, President of the Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce.
Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce encourages supporting startups, small businesses.
“These people are good, hard-working Pennsylvanians. They care about this community. They’ve invested a lot, in many cases all of their personal resources in this community,” stated Durkin.
Something this Commonwealth Coffeehouse customer also believes should be rewarded.
“I think it takes a lot of courage and everything and I think it’s a really beautiful place. It’s right in the heart of the downtown,” said Mary Lucchi.
The Greater Scranton Chamber of Commerce is willing to welcome more businesses downtown. If you or someone you know is interested you can go to their website or call at 570-342-7711.