Out of business

Day 14–July 17 (Indian Lake, PA-Kantner, PA, 7.9 miles)

The small downtown of Stoystown, Pa., has no restaurants or grocery stores. Even the vending machine in the center of town is out of order. At one time the town supported numerous shops including the small Stoystown Market. Now just a few businesses remain. When I asked an old man, who had paused with his bike at the top of the hill, where I could get a bite to eat, he told me that there had once been some restaurants but they had long since closed. If I wanted something to eat for dinner I wouldn’t find it in Stoystown. I got a similar story from another resident who suggested I head to the neighboring town of Kantner.

caption=”Few businesses are thriving in Stoystown. Many, like the Stoystown Market, have gone out of business.”

Kantner did have a small restaurant/bar but the town wasn’t in much better shape economically than its neighbor. Roughly 10 percent of those living in Somerset County Pa., are living in poverty. The county’s per capita income for 2007 hovered around $22,000. In Stoystown it is just above $18,000.

It is hard for a community to thrive when its businesses are all struggling or closed. Yet how can its residents be expected to support those businesses when they are making just above the minimum wage? It is a pattern being repeated in small towns and cities across the country. And it is a pattern that must be broken if communities are to thrive.

– By Jennifer E. Cooper