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Old 08-08-2010, 08:39 PM
Location: Vermont
3 posts, read 5,766 times
Reputation: 13


I am interested in opening a shoe store in western Pennsylvania. I have been in the business all my life and currently own and operate a successful comfort shoe store and a shoe repair shop in Vermont. I also own and have redeveloped old buildings here in our downtown. I am at a point in my life that I am looking to open additional stores and rehab more buildings, and with the economic climate and tax structure being what it is in Vermont I am looking elswhere. Additionally, PA appeals to me in that while it seems similar in many ways to VT (topography, climate, etc.) it does not appear to have been as influenced by extreme left-wing weirdness as my home state unfortunately has. What I am looking for is small town USA. The small city I am in now went through a period of economic decline starting in the 1960's and I am proud to have been one of the first to invest in the city's revitalization, but now we have people opening "hobby " businesses, and this is good for no one, it has no basis in economic reality. Ideally I would like to find an area with unrealized potential, an intact downtown with buildings that just need somebody to take the risk and make the first move. More specifically, here is what I am looking for:

-an area underserved by quality shoe stores ( we still measure feet!)

-an intact, walkable downton, "Main Street USA"

-a population of at least 30000 within a 20 mile radius

-an old building or buildings that I can buy and rehab

-proximity to recreation (hunting, fishing, boating, etc. ) would be nice

-good schools and a Catholic church in case I like it so much my family and I move there

Hopefully somebody out there knows of a place like this somewhere in western PA. I am not a tycoon, just a 45 yr old guy with a family who is pretty good at the shoe business and a decent carpenter to boot. Looking for a forgotten old building that I can buy, fix up, and open a shoe store in. Everybody told me I was crazy to do it here, that was ten+ yrs ago, and I am ready to do it again somewhere else. Thank You.
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Old 08-08-2010, 08:58 PM
Location: Pittsburgh area
9,918 posts, read 18,284,531 times
Reputation: 5043
To my knowledge the north suburbs of Pittsburgh in the Rt 19 corridor are underserved in that way (can't think of any indie shoe store out this way), but there's not a walkable downtown for you really. Can't say for certain that the folks who live out this way will be particularly interested, but there are a couple decent (I think) indie shoe stores in the city.

The rest of that is fine. Sure isn't gonna be hard to find a Catholic church around here.
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Old 08-09-2010, 12:10 AM
Location: Pittsburgh
1,758 posts, read 3,346,172 times
Reputation: 529
Oakmont might be the small town with the Main Street you are looking for.

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Old 08-09-2010, 12:22 AM
Location: Pittsburgh, USA
3,133 posts, read 7,813,496 times
Reputation: 1066
Oakmont fits. The woman's shoe store that was open there for 12 years closed in the spring.
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Old 08-09-2010, 02:23 AM
Location: Pittsburgh, PA
523 posts, read 839,277 times
Reputation: 270
Oakmont is one idea; East Liberty is another. There are a lot of people in the East End who run, and it's not easy to find a shoe store with seriously knowledgeable salespeople. I drive all the way out to Elite Runners and Walkers in Robinson Twp. to get proper fitting shoes.
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:26 AM
674 posts, read 1,115,694 times
Reputation: 679
You won't have to worry about finding a Catholic church- Pittsburgh is a very Catholic city.

What is your target customer? You've given your ideals for a location, but you may want to think more specifically about your clientèle. What are your prices like? What age range(s) do you target?
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Old 08-09-2010, 07:36 AM
Location: Bethel Park, PA
142 posts, read 297,474 times
Reputation: 140
Oakmont sounds exactly what you're looking for. Great downtown area, many thriving local businesses but still a few storefronts available. St. Irenaeus is a great Catholic church in Oakmont, and Riverview School District is pretty decent.

It's also right on the Allegheny river, with many options for boating, fishing and stuff. The only drawback is that houses are not plentiful there at all -- many established homes and nobody seems to move out. And when there are houses available, they tend to be 175k and over.

But overall, I would say you're describing Oakmont right there in your post.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:21 AM
Location: Pittsburgh
19,377 posts, read 20,184,225 times
Reputation: 38526
Dormont or Mt. Lebanon, as well.
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Old 08-09-2010, 09:47 AM
Location: About 10 miles north of Pittsburgh International
2,384 posts, read 3,269,778 times
Reputation: 2239
I think Burghgirl17 asked the important questions.
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Old 08-09-2010, 10:14 AM
Location: Philly
9,775 posts, read 12,705,115 times
Reputation: 2631
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