Family-owned Businesses at Heart of Beaver’s Success
Jun 30, 2016 08:57AM
● By Clare Heekin Lynch
Beaver folks are passionate about their town and like to tell anyone who will listen that it’s the best place in the Pittsburgh region.
“If you’re longing for the personal touch and the small, walkable town feel, then Beaver is the place to be,” shared Paula Johnston, co-owner of Generations Photography and Specialty Gift Shoppe.
Located along the Ohio River just 40 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh, Beaver is a vibrant town that combines the beauty and charm of its 200-year history with a thriving 21st-century energy. The town boasts tree-lined streets, a thriving downtown business district, public parks, year-round activities and events, and a safe community environment in which to live. Beaver was named as a Tree City USA due to all of its public parks; the school system and public library are both highly rated, and there is even a national, award-winning historical museum.
Only three blocks long, Beaver boasts more than 90 businesses with roughly 95 percent of them being family-owned and operated. “We’re a unique community because of this,” said Johnston, who started her business with her daughter in 2011. “When people outside of our town come and visit, they appreciate being able to meet and talk with either the store owners or their longtime employees because these owners have a vested passion and interest in their products and services.”
Keith Sevy, owner of Hostess Cards and Gifts and a Beaver Area Chamber of Commerce board member, agreed. “Our businesses are unique and individual. We have it all here, from high-end retailers to restaurants and eateries–our little town just keeps growing! These specialty stores give great values to our customers.”
Both Sevy and Johnston credit the town’s steady growth to its many events held throughout the year. “Our largest events are the Light-Up Festival in the winter, a Women’s Health, Wellness and Beauty Expo in the spring, and the Hot Summer Nights Car Cruise and the Hawaiian Luau in summer,” said Sevy. “Over the past 20 years, the car cruise, which will be held this year on Saturday, August 6, has grown to more than 3,400 vehicles and 40,000 visitors. It’s a great stimulant to our economy and our businesses.”
What sets the car cruise apart from others in the area is that it is a ‘true’ cruise. “The vehicles cruise up and down the main boulevard—these fantastic cars are moving all day long. And this fun event is family-oriented; we offer food, vendors, music and camaraderie. The men sit around telling stories and admiring cars while their wives get to enjoy shopping,” Sevy laughed.
The luau, held the third Thursday of August (Aug. 18) is a night where visitors can take their time to browse and shop late. “The 2-1/2 hour event, which begins at 7 p.m. by the clock tower, invites guests to mingle with store owners while enjoying refreshments that coincide with the theme, including tiki drinks and rum cakes,” said Johnston. “In addition, there will be a completely authentic Polynesian hula with fire dancers. We’ve done this theme before and people really enjoy the interactive aspect of the show.”
All of the events held in Beaver are headed up by the different shop owners and supported by many volunteers and chamber board members whose hearts, souls and livelihoods lie within the less than 1.1 square miles. “We want people to understand that when they support local mom-and-pop businesses they are, in turn, supporting their community in numerous ways, starting with the stores’ families,” Johnston said.