Chains put Kutztown’s small businesses in jeopardy

By Mikayla McLaughlin

Large chain businesses have generally been few and far between here in Kutztown. While walking down Main Street, we’re bombarded by small-town stores and restaurants all offering quality goods produced by passionate owners. There’s The

Domino’s Pizza in Kutztown Photo by Moriah Thomas, The Keystone
Domino’s Pizza in Kutztown Photo by Moriah Thomas, The Keystone

Frying Dutchman, specializing in freshly fried and handmade donuts, Mama’s Delight, a family owned pizzeria that has been serving Kutztown for over 30 years and Uptown Espresso Bar, a coffee shop and cafe that provides deliciously fresh drinks and treats.

The familiar faces and comfortable settings found in these local shops, along with the knowledge that the products we’re consuming have been made by someone who really cares, help strengthen our community.

These local spots create an arena for the battle between college life and small town residents.

The scene in Uptown Espresso varies widely throughout the day. Families, students and workers on lunch break filter through the small, rustically decorated shop. Students sip at lattes while reviewing notes and old friends reminisce over a light lunch. Locations like this where students and other residents of the town are able to connect and converse play a key role in maintaining the positive atmosphere our town is known for.

J. Ian Joseph Galiyano, a forensic anthropology major, said, “There are some things you can acquire at the small businesses that you can’t get at the corporate stores, such as foods made with locally grown foods, the nostalgia [and] certain specials.”

KU students seem to agree that small, locally owned shops are an important part of our community, but with the recent openings of both Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s, these small businesses are facing some tough competition. Chain businesses and restaurants, slowly working their way into Kutztown, are able to offer familiar brands and lower prices. They are negatively affecting both the livelihoods of local businesses owners and the ambience of the area.

Take Global Libations, for example. This local coffee roasting company, specializing in high quality sustainable coffee, has recently been facing trouble. Soon after Dunkin’ Donuts opened its doors, Global Libations’ Main Street location closed down. A recent Facebook post made by the company states, “The way things have been going…we should be open before the summer of 2025.” Unfortunately, the company

could not be reached for further comment.

“It’s bad because the small town can’t support both the small businesses and chains, so it’s easy for a bigger business to come in and take over,” said KU student Darrelle Sherman.

Chatting in a cold booth over a mass-produced Dunkin Donuts chocolate sprinkle donut will never compare to the warm atmosphere of a local coffee shop run with passion and dedication. The owners of small businesses in Kutztown love what they do and strive to add to the community, while the owners of local corporate franchises are here to make a buck in a busy college town.

Logan Hanning, art education and fine arts major, said, “I think we should support the small businesses because they depend on us, whereas a place like Domino’s doesn’t really care much.”

If we, as a community of students, professors and residents, come together and frequent the mom-and-pop shops that make our town so special, rather than places like Dunkin’ Donuts and Domino’s, we can ensure that small businesses will continue to thrive here in Kutztown.

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