Monday, June 18, 2012

New Hope business scene: more new players gear up for the high season

Angel Hearts in New Hope, PA (Photo: Charlie Sahner)

By Charlie Sahner

Commercial occupancy rates seem to be creeping up in New Hope, and even accounting for seasonal factors, it seems that cautious optimism at least partially rooted in the Bucks County Playhouse renovation has taken hold in local business circles. Three cases in point:

Newtown women’s clothing and accessory boutique Angel Hearts apparently had a change of heart about their retail location and switched to 12 W. Bridge St. in New Hope last month. Specializing in high-end jewelry, handbags, scarves, shoes and imported women's couture, what's also interesting about Angel Hearts is that owner Sherri Daugherty and her husband Kevin are the locally famous couple who funded the purchase and refurbishment of the Bucks County Playhouse re-opening next month.

Grabbing the empty storefront at 48 W. Ferry St. is the Stephen Clark Design Group, which intends to use the space "as an office for design projects as well as a retail store with furniture and doodads," according to the company. Ferry Street has been under some pressure in recent years as New Hope's commercial district has contracted, and the avenue once known as "antiques row" is also home to an important local bridge currently under construction. Nonetheless, an interior design business seems a logical choice for this particular location, especially given the borough's tendency toward business category redundancy.

And speaking of redundancy, another intriguing newcomer is a yet unnamed frozen yogurt store opening soon at 88 S. Main St. While New Hope has never experienced a dearth of frozen confection outlets, don't bet against this one. It's owned by Han Pan, and if you don't know who he is, you soon will. Currently executive director at the Asian Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia and board member at the National Council of Chinese Americans, Han has also served as an officer at the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development and been deputy executive director of the Pennsylvania Governor's Advisory Commission on Asian American Affairs.

Bottom line: Don't expect this former community organizer and Main Street Manager to stick with the status quo when it comes to fulfilling his goal of making New Hope an international tourist destination.

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