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I think word of mouth is spreading, said Hart. I think people are looking for something interactive to do in this area.

Throughout the Susquehanna Valley, 2017s batch of new businesses have achieved success by finding and filling a previously empty niche.

Bucknell University Small Business Development Center director Steve Stumbrissaid he has seen many businesses succeed this year by using this strategy.

In comparing our centers results to those of SBDCs throughout the Commonwealth and throughout our nation wide program, we find that the Susquehanna Valley region benefits greatly from entrepreneurs who are connected to their communities, said Stumbris.

All Star Bagels owner Andr Garrote said understanding the surrounding community is an important part of ensuring a new business success.

He credits All Star Bagels success to filling a need for breakfast food in the area.

You have to see whats needed in the community and then fill that niche, said Garrote.

All Star Bagels only opened this past October and it is already an extremely popular spot in Lewisburg.

Garrote said the lines at his store are so long he plans to expand his kitchen, open a full bakery section and an online ordering service next year.

It has been really good, he said.

PhotoWhere owner Ron Aunkst said his Milton business not only offers professional shoots for clients, but also an opportunity for photographers of all ages to display their art in a gallery, rent a studio for work, or take classes.

He hopes to even turn the third floor into a living space for out of town, guest photographers.

Ive wanted my own studio since I was 16 years old, he said. Im 50 years old now. I want them to pursue their dreams while they are young. This studio will help me give students and high schools the exposure to get started.

Farmhouse Market owner Elizabeth Reiff said her business, which opened in Milton earlier this year,
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also filled a hole in thecommunity. It is both a discount grocery store and a deli.

Milton doesnt have anything else like this, said Reiff. It is a lot busier than we expected.

Jessica Brouse opened the Laundry Room of Milton over the summer. The business has gained customers from as far away as Sunbury and Watsontown.

Laundry Room employee Donna Miller said customers appreciate the business cleanliness, inexpensive prices anda Kids Corner play space.

When the Laundry Room had its grand opening in May, Brouses husband Lyle Brouse said the business provided a needed service in the community.

He said that because many Milton residents rent their homes, they dont usually have the space or money to buy laundry equipment.

It feels just like home here, said Miller. People can do their laundry, watch television and let their children play.

Greater Susquehanna Valley Chamber of Commerce President Bob Garrett believes these small businesses have done well partially because people want to experience good customer service while shopping.

He said shopping at a small business almost always guarantees that a customer will receive friendly, individualized help.

Look at Coles Hardware. It thrives despite being surrounded by big box stores, said Garrett. The service there is top notch.

Dennis Faulk, who retired and closed the Point Barn Antiques store at the Point Barn Retail Gallery in April, told the Daily Item earlier this year that businesses stand out more when they havepersonality.

The Inside Track athletic supply store owner Mark Amway closed the companysLewisburg branch because the areas customer base was too small to sustain the store.

We originally decided to open astore in Lewisburg because there wasnt much up there and we thought it was an area we might do well in, said Amway. But we didnt have enough of a growth in the four years since it opened to justify keeping it.

The Inside Track still has stores in Lancaster, Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg.

Rishels Meats owners Angela and David Hendricks re opened the store in Mifflinburg in 2016 and closed its doors on Dec. 30, 2017.
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