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Since opening her coffee and chocolate shop, Harvest Moon, in Tarentum earlier this year, Desiree Singleton has heard from people who can’t get there before she closes at 4 p.m.
She’ll be among a group of borough business owners hoping to draw shoppers into town in the evenings by staying open later on one Thursday each month. The first “Night Market” will be held on Sept. 17, with participating businesses staying open until 8 p.m.
The plan is for it to be held on the third Thursday of each month with the exception of December. Because of Christmas, it will be held on the second Thursday, Dec. 10.
In addition to staying open later, Singleton said she’ll have a musician playing outside her Corbet Street storefront.
“It’s going to be wonderful,” she said. “It has to start somewhere. It has to start small.”
The initiative is intended to encourage people to return to Tarentum to shop in the evening, said David Rankin, executive director of Faith Community Partners and one of the organizers.
In addition to borough businesses remaining open later those nights, several vendors will be set up inside The Murphy Building on Corbet Street, which Rankin owns and is working to draw tenants into.
“It will likely begin gradually, but many businesses have already agreed to remain open,” he said. “It will feature no ‘main event’ anywhere. The real purpose is to encourage the public to walk the streets of the central business district in the evening and, hopefully, to feel safe to do so.”
Rankin said they’re working on ideas that will draw people to participate in the Night Markets, such as stamped “passports,” cookie crawls, and gift basket raffles.
“We’ll see how this first one goes in September and go from there,” Rankin said. “If it really goes well, it could be expanded to more than just one night a month.”
Dianna Roney has owned Diamond Antiques and Gifts on East Sixth Avenue for 14 years and will be participating.
“We’re on the verge of having a really great downtown area,” she said. “We’d like to see people walking the streets and shopping. We need people to know we’re here.”
Roney, who normally closes at 5 p.m., said she once tried staying open until 7 p.m. but it didn’t catch on.
She is among a small group of the business owners who have met and are also working on creating a retailers’ association called “Tarentum Momentum.”
“All businesses in both East and West Tarentum are invited to participate,” Rankin said. “This initiative may eventually expand to Brackenridge and Harrison as well, but we feel that Tarentum is most and best prepared to begin this now.”
Roney said they’ve been brainstorming ideas and talking about how to bring more business to the borough. She’d like to see a winery or brewery open up, and more places to eat.
She’d even like to see more antique shops — which Roney doesn’t see as competition, but as giving people more reason to come to Tarentum to go “antiquing.”
“We are pretty lucky here,” she said. “It’s a nice town. We need just a few more things to keep it going.”
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