Despite labor shortages and supply chain woes dominating business headlines amid the pandemic, a few entrepreneurial spirits have launched new ventures in Danville.
Skill, passion, creativity, experience, family, opportunity and community drove them to open their own businesses.
The Montour County borough is seeing some of its empty storefronts filled. In Milton, the launch of the Art Academy of Milton, a collaborative art location in the former Eagles property, also presents a creative way to get people downtown.
It would be refreshing to see similar growth and variety in other Valley downtowns.
Sarah Dayton turned her natural skill and passion for cooking — “everybody already told me, ‘cook for me,’” she said — into a new pickup meal service at Dash Meal Solutions at 27 E. Market St.
She started thinking about the business while contemplating her future on vacation before the pandemic.
“I wanted to do something more creative,” she said.
Two other new businesses, Amigo’s Pizza and Mexican Restaurant and The Art Grind, are both just a few blocks away on Mill Street.
Family members Sergio Chavez, Nazario and Lino Lopez and Alejandro Gomez are owners of Amigo’s Pizza, which opened Aug. 2.
Nazario Lopez is in charge of the Italian food at the eatery, and Lino Lopez makes the Mexican food.
Chavez, who previously worked for more than 20 years at a pizza business in Tamaqua, said he felt the time was right to go out on his own.
He and his niece, Evelyn Lopez, who also works at Amigo’s, still live in Tamaqua.
“We drive one hour back and forth every single day,” Lopez said.
Business partners Brock Dent and Ashley Lopez had been looking for studio space after Dent lost his construction job during the pandemic. They found an empty storefront on Mill Street and opened The Art Grind.
They displayed the work of then-Danville Area High School senior Emma Varano, now in art school in Chicago, in the front window.
“We had a show of her work,” Dent said.
They also display the work of artists in the community they know. Lopez and Dent are the resident artists.
“As long as we have a storefront, we might as well have a gallery,” Dent said. “If we have a show, we sell the work and take a small percentage. We have our own artwork we sell, as well.”
Launching a successful business is an uphill climb. Launching one during a pandemic creates many extra hurdles.
If there is a recipe to business success — COVID-19 or not — the secret ingredients include the same characteristics that these owners used to open their doors in the first place.
NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher, top newsroom executives and community members of the editorial board. Today’s was written by News Editor Eric Pehowic.