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Downtown business bouncing back

She was not the only one to close door, however.

Friday, September 03, 1999

She was not the only one to close door, however. Ironton Office Supply on the corner of South Third Street and Park Avenue is going out of business.

And over the past four years, Mrs. Riley said she has seen a flower shop, loan shop and drug store leave.

And that’s not to mention bigger employers, like Cabletron, that are ceasing their operations, she said.

It’s difficult to stay in business in such a chaotic climate because when businesses leave downtown it affects the ones that are left, Mrs. Riley said.

"Our decline started right after the Marting Hotel burned two years ago," she said. "We did a lot of carry out business over there. We did carry out business over at the Sandbar, to the T & H Grill and to Cabletron until they built a cafeteria. As each thing shuts down, your business goes down with it. When you get down to the point that all you are doing is paying your bills, it’s time to close."

Downtown Ironton needs an influx of businesses to begin to thrive again, Mrs. Riley said.

Many new businesses that have opened up this past year should help the area flourish in the near future, however, Mayor Bob Cleary said.

The Little Chicago Deli opened up in June in the city center, and New York, New York Travel is planning an open house today.

Pizza Forum opened up about four months ago; the city has a new social security office; and there’s a new physical therapy group on South Second and Railroad streets, Cleary said.

There’s also a new archery shop on South Third and Jefferson streets, and two new car dealerships – Park Avenue Motors and Kleinman Brothers, he added.

"Ironton’s definitely growing," Cleary said. "We took a definite blow when Cabletron moved out. But we’re seeing a new business open up practically every week. And most of the ones that are closing are closing because the owner wants to retire."

And Cleary said he can see more businesses moving in once the South Second Street pavement project is completed.

Although it is a new business, the New York, New York Travel company’s owner is a longtime friend of Ironton.

Bruce Rogers opened New York, New York Travel and Pegasus Luxury Coach – a limousine service – in February, because Rogers said he has faith in the City of Ironton.

"I believe in Ironton," Rogers said. "I feel the City of Ironton is a prime example of a town that could become a tourist town. We have a lot of history here."

And Ironton needs to capitalize on that history if it is expected to thrive, Rogers added.

"Ironton still has a lot to offer," he said. "It has the Ohio River on one side and Route 52 connecting it to major highways on the other side."

An old idea, Rogers has the solution to giving Ironton a rebirth.

"I saw South Third Street, when JC Penney’s was still in business, as being a mall," Rogers said. "I saw Third Street covered from the city building to Center Street. I saw it with a glass-covered dome area. South Third Street would be an atrium shopping mall. I even see that happening now."

It is possible to stay in business in Ironton – as a number of places have stood the test of time.

The Iron City Hardware Co. has remained at its location on South Third Street for about 30 years, said Jim Hacker, owner.

"People like to buy where they know people," Hacker said. "They know they are getting good quality and they know the Hacker name."

Hacker’s grandfather and great-uncle, Herman and Henry, opened the store in 1926, and Hacker said it will not close down anytime soon.

"My daughter’s 6 and she wants to work here, so I have to keep it open for her."