Steinwehr Avenue Businesses Are In Trouble..

not, however, because of the move of the Gettysburg Visitor Center.  By now all of you are aware that the new VC has opened at a location further removed from the schlock shops along Steinwehr Avenue and has implemented a plan to charge admission [pdf file] for the new movie and Cyclorama.  Local business owners have complained about both of these decisions as an explanation for decreasing foot traffic and sales.  Let me suggest that their real problem is a lack of imagination:

In the meantime, the business owners are brainstorming other ideas to attract visitors – including locals – to Steinwehr Avenue.  Crist said it's not often that a local stops by Flex and Flanigan's.  "If I get 10 local people in my store a year, that's amazing," he said.

One suggestion is a Christmas tree competition. Participating
businesses would each decorate their own tree, and visitors would vote
with money on the winner. Donations could go to a charitable cause.  "That's one way we might be able to get some people in," Crist said.

Let me suggest that the blame for poor sales ought not to be pinned on the NPS's decision to move the VC nor for its decision to charge admission.  If there is any blame to be assigned it must go to the members of the Steinwehr Avenue Business Alliance who failed to plan for a move that was years in the making.  Good luck guys.  You are going to need it if the best you can do is a Christmas Tree competition.

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6 comments… add one
  • Tim Abbott Oct 10, 2008 @ 12:31

    What, no bake sales? C’mon, who wouldn’t drop 50 cents a piece for minie munchkins, Steinweher torte and Buford Bagels, all done up in Reynolds Wrap? The smell of victory!

    I think a coffee shop called the A.P. Hill of Beans would go over well, too.

  • Mannie Gentile Oct 6, 2008 @ 22:29


    Being able to walk, as well as being an enthusiastic walker, I find that stretch through the woods from the new VC, past the Liester house and National Cemetery, and on up to the land of tee- shirts and ghost tours an always delightful jaunt. In my three visits this spring and summer, the new VC location has never deterred my obligatory side trips to my favorite toy soldier stores in town.

    Though I know that downtown commerce wont be saved by my meager contributions, I have become aware of the fragile nature of that commerce if it has to rely upon the physical fitness of your typical visitors. I guess it’s just too counterintuitive to have that many ice cream joints such a vigorous hike from the VC parking lot.

    As you say, they had plenty of time to plan this transition, though I do wish them well.


  • Kevin Levin Oct 5, 2008 @ 20:42

    Thanks for the update Dana.

  • Dana Shoaf Oct 5, 2008 @ 18:03

    Kevin, I don’ think there is a problem with foot traffic along Steinwehr. My wife and I were up there on Labor Day weekend and the street was reasonably crowded with people and the restaurants like the Gingerbread Man and Tommy’s Pizza seemed to be doing well.

    The problem, I think, is that so many of the shops along Steinwher sell the same junk. The same cheap trinkets, felt kepis, cap guns, T-shirts, etc. Shop after shop carries the same, or very similar stock of merchandise.

    I think that is the root problem of the supposed drop off in sales.

  • Kevin Levin Oct 5, 2008 @ 9:55

    John, — You’ve asked some excellent questions. Seems to me it’s just the kind of thing that the Steinweher Avenue Business Alliance ought to be looking into rather than organizing Christmas tree contests or fixating on the VC. Thanks for the comment.

  • John Cummings Oct 5, 2008 @ 9:51

    Something I have wondered about is if the hotels/motels along the Steinwehr Avenue and downtown at large are having trouble filling rooms? The NPS facility certainly is not providing overnight accomodations… so if people are staying in town but not shopping what might this say? I have read it suggested that visitors are skipping the town all together by stopping at the new VC, touring the field and leaving. I am having a hard time seeing that as reality. Certainly all the other “museum” attractions in town are benefitting from the ever present brochures in every hotel/motel, rest-stop and eatery. Yes, no, maybe so? What percentage of businesses are not seeing an adverse effect from the VC move? How much is actual decline in customer count versus average purchase? What have the national trends in retail shown across the country and is there any relation to the G’burg effect? Is there simply too much saturation? What of quality, variety and welcoming shopping experience? Leroy Smith used to have a hold on the wholesale souvenir business in town. Is there anything similar in place currently?

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