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Lock Haven continues to see growth in women-owned businesses

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Ashley Foltz, owner of Skeleton Key Boutique, stands in front of a wall of product she sells at her store.

LOCK HAVEN — As the number of retail stores continues to grow in downtown Lock Haven, another trend can be found.

A sizable portion of these businesses that have chosen to open brick-and-mortar locations in the Central Business District are also women-owned or operated. And let’s not forget some of the mainstays who put down roots in their profession along Main Street.

From clothing and jewelry, gifts and services such as CPAs and hair stylists, the number of women-owned businesses downtown and in Lock Haven has continued to grow.

And the number of women owned businesses increases that much more when you take a step outside of the city.

But why has there suddenly been an uptick of women entrepreneurs venturing into retail and other professions?

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Roz Rebarchak, owner and stylist at Hair Concepts by Roz, works with a customer.

Ashley Foltz, owner of Skeleton Key Boutique at 19 E. Main St., believes there’s been a change in dynamics over the years.

“I think the dynamics of women in business have changed. The expectations of life and wanting to be your own boss and be in charge of your own success,” she said.

Foltz opened her women’s clothing store in 2020 after operating a location in Flemington. Prior to this she sold her products online, and still offers that option.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “We all are very close and support each other. It’s nice to see. We have this comradery and cheer each other on.”

More than just a love of fashion brought Foltz into her career.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Mary Winner, owner of Gio’s 222 Salon is pictured with a client, Daria Armstrong.

“My mom has always been in business and sales,” she said. “So growing up I watched her do it all … balance business, sales and being a mother.”

A Little Bird, 132 E. Main St., has become another staple in downtown Lock Haven. Owners Lisa Henderson and Tina Newberry have grown so much since they first opened a physical location at a store front along Grove Street.

Henderson said she and Tina are happy to be one of some many women-owned businesses to call downtown home.

“I think over the last few years we have brought more attention to what women can do. And what better time for women to step up and show what they’re capable of,” she said.

The community was the driving force behind A Little Bird, which sells a variety of locally made and sourced items from gifts to clothing and jewelry.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Lisa Henderson and Tina Geyer are pictured in their store, A Little Bird, along Main Street in downtown.

“Tina and I can agree that it’s the community that inspires us to do what we do. One of our main focuses is to help the communities we live in,” Henderson said.

One women-owned business just recently opened its doors and is happy to be part of the growing community.

Sue Kern and her daughter Kayla Graybill opened Darling and Dapper Children’s Boutique, 228 E. Main St., in December of 2021. The mother-daughter duo sold their products at pop-up events and shows for a year prior to making the switch to a brick-and-mortar location.

“I think it’s great,” Kern said of the growth in women-owned businesses. “It’s fabulous that we’re all doing this.”

Kern believes many of the businesses that have come downtown were already in the making before hand.

LAURA JAMESON/THE EXPRESS Sue Kern stands inside Darling and Dapper Children’s Boutique. Kern and her daughter opened the store in December.

“I think a lot of women were already doing their own thing on the side. And with department stores closing in both directions it just opened up that need,” she said. “Even before that you had to go so far to shop.”

For Kern, taking the leap into owning a physical location was inspired by Hanna Stover, owner of Momoyo Otsu.

Stover opened her women’s clothing store, located at 147 E. Main St., in November 2020. Since then, the store has expanded to include an entire jewelry section. With the expansion in 2021, Stover was able to grow her partnership with Martina Guerria Goldsmith too.

“She is amazing,” Kern said of Stover. “She was part of my inspiration to open this store.”

Beyond just the new women in business, there are a few main stays that have witnessed the many changes of downtown Lock Haven over the decades.

Mary Winner, owner of Gio’s 222 Hair Salon at 222 E. Main St., has been operating out of the same location for nearly three decades.

“I’ve been here for 27 years, I think it’s nice,” Winner said of the growth in women-owned and operated businesses. “We’re starting to get support from downtown after 27 years. I enjoy it.”

An increase in opportunities is why Winner believes there has been a growth in women-owned businesses through the years.

“I think there were more opportunities for women to open businesses and do what they’ve been striving to do all their lives,” she said. “They finally did it and I’m sure they’re doing well.”

Roz Rebarchak, owner of Hair Concepts by Roz located at 28 E. Main St., feels she doesn’t fall into the same category as some of the more recent businesses to open up shop.

“I’m very honored to be a part of the downtown group, I love being downtown,” she said. “Our industry was primarily led by women in the beginning, so I don’t feel that my category falls with the rest of the lovely women who have taken on the town and started something new.”

Rebarchak noted that she feels honored to be downtown and to witness this growth.

A change of society is why Rebarchak feels more women are owning businesses and taking part in new endeavors.

“You don’t have to be afraid as a woman, we have so many more opportunities,” she said. “When I was in high school, the things you went to school for were nursing, school teaching or something like that. You weren’t ever encouraged to have an entrepreneurial spirit whatsoever.”

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