Rachel Aliya Makansi
On a drive through the center of Cochranville one passes an organic farm, three consignment shops (one of which used to be a video rental and gift shop), two abandoned gas stations, one Turkey Hill, one pizza place – that used to be a Mexican restaurant and before that a series of who-knows businesses.
Why are some businesses failing in Cochranville while others thrive?
Ninety-five percent of all businesses fail according to Mr. Napolitano the business teacher at Octorara High School. But should this statistic really hold true at the intersection of roads as well-traveled as Route 41 and Route10?
Of course, the location of a business is not the only factor that affects its success.
Is bad advertising outweighing the benefits of the location? Is the competition between similar businesses in such close proximity forcing the imbalance between failure and success? Or do the businesses that have been there longer, like Turkey Hill, Northstar Orchards, and two of the three consignment shops, more lucky in that they own their building, and thus have better finances because they don’t have to worry about rent?
One man sits by a rack of tie-dyed t-shirts, flags and other pleasure items in the parking lot of one of the abandoned gas stations. He’s been there for a few years. Has he been successful because he doesn’t have a building to pay rent or repairs on?
Mr. Napolitano outlined two factors that make the Route 41 and Route10 intersection in Cochranville less appealing to businesses.
“Gas is competitive,” he states plainly before continuing to complain that there are too many gas stations on Route 41 in general.
At the Route 41 and Route 10 intersection there was a time when there were three gas stations, competing with each other for business. Two of these went out of business, and the other – Turkey Hill – expanded on its shop, parking lot, and gas tanks.
Did the competition between gas stations become too much for the other two? Mr. Napolitano also explains that gas stations have to install sensors to ensure that the tanks are separated by a safe distance. These sensors, he says, can be expensive.
But this doesn’t explain why Turkey Hill could afford to install more sensors while the other gas stations went out of business. “There is no demand for gas,” Mr. Napolitano states bluntly, “gas stations make their money through their shop,” he concludes. It makes sense that Turkey Hill could outshine other gas stations with outstanding sales on other products.
The other factor that could contribute to business failures and successes in the Cochranville area is the flow of traffic in relation to the business, according to Mr. Napolitano. Traffic on Route 41 runs from North to South in the morning as residents of Gap and Lancaster County drive to work in Delaware and Philadelphia. Limestone Pizza, which resides in a building that has changed business hands frequently, lies on a back road near 41 but not directly on it.
Could this be contributing to former business failures at that location? One of the consignment shops (which also resides in a building that has often changed its business) is also situated just off Route 41 instead of directly on the road. Another consignment shop is located at the corner of Route 10 and Route 41, and it has been witnessing large demand for a few years.
Could it be that this consignment shop can credit all its success on being on the right street and on the right side of it? If this is the case it would seem unfairly ironic that Turkey Hill is on the wrong side of the street (who would stop for gas on their way to work?), but is still probably the most successful business in town.
How can the West Fallowfield Township make it easier for local businesses to succeed in Cochranville?