Emerging Businesses Overcome Obstacles

Leah Sintic shares the story of Hush Money Bikes and other local businesses that began operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. Reprinted from townlively.com.

Read the original article on townlively.com.


Operating a business is a strenuous venture in the best of circumstances, and with the current economic climate, local entrepreneurs are being strained and stretched even more. But that has not stopped some tenacious Lancaster County residents from pushing forward with new or expanding businesses.

LaundrE-town on Market in Elizabethtown is one such emerging endeavor. After more than a year of renovation and progress, the fully renovated, modern laundromat was slated for an April 1 grand opening, but state mandated closures postponed the final stages of completion. The essential business eventually opened successfully on May 1.

"We started construction sometime around September of 2019 and faced many challenges," explained company president Gretchen Rothstein. "Fast forward to March 20 when the stay-at-home order began, we were just about at completion."

Boasting 10 front load washers, including two extra-capacity units, 10 gas-powered dryers, complimentary Wi-Fi, a television, and change and vending machines, the startup hopes to meet a need for downtown Elizabethtown in a fresh, state-of-the-art facility.

The May 1 launch served to unveil only part of what Rothstein hopes to offer in the future. Such offerings may include a "wash, dry, and fold service."

While most businesses are seeking ways to stay afloat in spite of the pandemic, Hush Money Bikes of Lancaster is an enterprise that emerged to provide solutions in the midst of this unusual season.

The cycle shop on North Prince Street in Lancaster city embraces a mission "to build community through personalized bicycle sales and service." It was already in the planning stages in 2019, but the final impetus to make the company a reality came after the crisis struck.

"The governor declared that bicycle repair was an essential service, but many local bicycle shops had already closed," explained Ted Houser, one of three founding partners alongside Nathan Baker and Chris Caldwell. "Cyclists who relied on their bicycles for transportation started calling our personal phones for assistance. At that point, we realized that we were in a position to help."

The ambitious trio had already laid the groundwork and was poised to spring into action when the need arose.

"We met regularly with a SCORE mentor who helped us to develop a business plan and a budget for the shop," Houser detailed. "We quickly adapted our plan for these uncertain times and stepped forward to support cyclists."

SCORE, a nonprofit association of business counselors with a mission to support small businesses, has approximately 80 volunteers working with clients in the Lancaster and Lebanon areas. During unprecedented closures, SCORE has played a vital role in the health of both existing and new small business ventures.

"We have been helping our clients to navigate federal, state, and local loan and unemployment programs," explained certified SCORE mentor Joann Brayman. "We are engaging our clients to evaluate their business models to see what will work under the emerging guidelines for reopening businesses. In many cases, they will be looking at new safety measures, new types of products, or even new customers." Mentoring provided through SCORE is free, noted Brayman.

For Hush Money Bikes, adhering to new health guidelines and restrictions means meeting sales and service needs by appointment only, with purchases made at http://www.hushmoneybikes.com or by calling 717-723-8334. Products may be picked up curbside at the company's location at 237 N. Prince St., Lancaster.

Other local entrepreneurs were on the cusp of expanding already successful businesses. One such example is Tied House, a second venture from the owners of St. Boniface Craft Brewing Co. in Ephrata. The Lititz venue will have ties to and distinctions from the flagship taproom in Ephrata.

"We plan to feature our beer, hand-picked Pennsylvania wine and spirits, and a menu featuring locally sourced, house-smoked, and house-roasted ingredients," described Dain Shirey, co-owner of both establishments.

Although the original plans had aimed at a May debut of Tied House, mandated closures have delayed the grand opening. With state regulations and uncertainty continuing to interrupt forward motion, the Tied House team will consider opening under a limited to-go menu, a small taste of what is to come.

"We'd like the community to know we are thinking about them and missing our normal interactions at the taproom," explained Shirey. "They can still purchase beer and food from us on a takeout basis in Ephrata or purchase our products throughout Lancaster County."

Another local favorite that needed to make adjustments was New Holland Coffee Company. With an existing location on West Main Street in New Holland, the house-roasted coffee hotspot had anticipated to burst onto the Lancaster city scene with a second location on East King Street, but received the call to close just four days before its projected opening.

"We are so grateful for our new staff that has been so patient in waiting to open during these uncertain times," praised owner Mark Fisher, also expressing gratitude for the support of the community.

With the new location placed on hold, the home base incorporated new procedures, including an online ordering app implemented earlier this year and a contactless pickup window.

"We hope to open for online ordering and takeout in the next few weeks," Fisher said of the Lancaster city location, hinting at a new menu that will retain New Holland favorites and the company's signature house-roasted coffee. "Our shop will have a similar design style to our New Holland location with a modern, unique twist."

Uncertainty might be at an all-time high, but rising to the challenge and caring for the community is at the heart of these and countless other local businesses that are pushing forward to bring brighter days to Lancaster County.