Letting the Freez Go

Alicia Newman, Contributing Writer

In a little borough called Lewisburg stands a small, shack-like building with the words Lewisburg Freez posted above. Looking around, customers can see gas stations, supermarkets, and constant passing cars making their way through the little Central PA “city” that 5,158 people call home. Yet, when standing under the purple and blue sign of this little Mom & Pop, locally owned ice cream stand,  you can’t help but feel a sense of comfort and a breeze of childhood nostalgia over banana split freezes and hot fudge sundaes. 

On August 17th, at 9:38 a.m, The Freez Facebook page—followed by more people than Lewisburg’s own population—announced the closure of their store planned for the upcoming week.  This sudden loss sent a shockwave through the community.  Customers poured their hearts out for the Lewisburg treasure, and Bucknell students frantically flocked to the stand to enjoy one last treat with their friends.  Commenters called it “a loss for the community,” and “another piece of my upbringing closed.” But other than a distancing from old Lewisburg ways, people seemed especially bothered by the reason behind the shop’s end: increasing rent, a factor that is causing the decline of small, successful businesses in the area. One commenter wrote: “Landlords have gotten so greedy … raising rents beyond what small businesses can possibly afford. It’s sad because small businesses make communities so much more enjoyable.”  

Lewisburg is not an ever-changing, ever-growing place. Family-life is central to the Lewisburg experience and many people have lived here for generations. It’s not a surprise that when an old-fashioned, family owned business closes, people feel a little bit of Lewisburg slip from their fingertips. Places like the Freez offer affordable, homemade treats that aren’t as common in today’s day and age—driving through McDonalds for an oreo McFlurry doesn’t have the same sentiment as seeing a familiar face prepare a cool scoop of your favorite flavor right in front of your eyes.  When places like The Freez close, it seems like Lewisburg inches a little closer to an overly-commercialized corporate hub that lacks character.  

Although most Bucknell students are not from the immediate area, the Freez still had just as much importance. It reminds some of their hometown ice cream shop, or of their first time hanging out with a freshman year roommate. It’s a place to watch the sunset, or hang out with friends that live across campus. Cristina Canales ‘24 remarked: “It made Lewisburg feel special. It can be hard to feel at home in college and sometimes some really good ice cream can be the exact comfort we need. I hope whatever is put in its place will make people just as happy.”  

Little stores around this town are what make it such a special place for Bucknell students and town members to call home.  Sadly, The Freez is just another gem that has fallen victim to rising rent.  As Bucknell students who are lucky enough to call Lewisburg our second home, we have a responsibility to this community to speak out when things like this happen.  The Freez may be gone, but we can use this moment as an opportunity to remember to support other local Lewisburg businesses.   

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