Students frequent downtown shops

By Molly Brown

Contributing Writer

When a student hears something about downtown Lewisburg, the first thought that most likely pops into his or her head is probably related to a party at one of the houses on Sixth or Seventh Street. It only takes a stroll down Market Street on an early Saturday afternoon to see a different relationship between students and downtown. The bookstore’s downtown relocation has acted as a catalyst to lure students downtown, and now their support of the local businesses is strong and steady.

Obviously the University bookstore’s placement, which moved to the corner of Market Street and Fourth Street last year, was an initial drawing force to bring students downtown. Even if students order their textbooks from other online vendors, the allure of this season’s spirit wear and perhaps a notebook or two necessitate the pilgrimage. The University makes it easy for students to do so with the regular campus shuttle service. It should be noted, though, that students are extending beyond the gleaming tables of the Barnes & Noble paperbacks and Starbucks-fueled caffeine source to the smaller, independently owned stores of downtown Lewisburg.

As someone who grew up with an independent bookshop that was taken away from me by a big-box chain store, I was delighted beyond measure to see a large group of students walk right by the new Subway and head instead into Pronto. Coincidentally on the way there myself, I opened the door to Pronto and saw that not only was every table full, but also every table held students, happily laughing and sharing a nice Saturday lunch away from the Bison for a change. It was wonderful. I began to observe Market Street a bit more closely. I saw students with bags walking out of thrift stores, two friends deliberating underneath the Campus Theatre marquee about which times worked better for their schedules and a group of three turning the corner with coffee, doubtless coming from the charming Cherry Alley. After I returned to my dorm later that day, I asked my friends if they shopped downtown often, aside from the bookstore. My artist friends told me they stop in Brushstrokes often, and other friends head to Bull Run whenever there’s a big game on the weekend.

As a first-year student, I cannot assert if this is a recent phenomenon. Every student goes through “Welcome to the Neighborhood: Lewisburg Day” during Orientation, so students are aware of the local businesses. I do not think that the downtown survives solely on the patronage of University students. On the contrary, I see the same people sitting in Cherry Alley on Saturday mornings, the same people waiting in line at the Campus Theatre on Sunday afternoons, the same faces at CVS and the same people carrying pizza out of Pizza Phi. I do think the decision to move the bookstore has ultimately proved beneficial to the local economy because more foot traffic, no matter who’s doing the walking, means more business. So for those of you who have yet to make it downtown, the next time you want to spice up your normal Bostwick Marketplace routine or need to find a birthday gift, take a stroll down Market Street and see what you can discover.


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