Staff Picks: What Should Replace The Fraser Street H&M?
Last week, we learned that downtown State College’s H&M is set to close its doors for good on September 19 after almost five years in business.
While some may miss having a convenient location to purchase cheugy business casual wear before a presentation, there is a lot of potential for what could replace H&M’s storefront.
The space is huge, the location is preferred, and many students pass its doors walking to and from campus. Naturally, our staffers have some strong opinions on what should replace H&M.
Dana June Nunemacher: A Thrift Store
We need a thrift store downtown. Webster’s has a smaller selection of threads, but I’m talking a full-blown warehouse of clothes.
I remember being a thrift-hungry college freshman that wanted to be trendy, but local thrift shops are pretty far away from campus. I was surprised that there wasn’t an accessible option downtown since thrifting and DIY-style clothing is popular these days.
It would also be a great way for students to recycle clothing and save money.
Colleen Nersten: Downtown Bonfatto’s
Bonfatto’s Italian Market and Corner Cafe is a 100-year-old family business in Bellefonte. It’s easily my favorite local business because its selection ranges from quality coffee to pasta to Italian subs. The 20-minute drive for students can be fairly inconvenient, which is why I propose a downtown State College location.
The H&M storefront is large, which would allow for plenty of seating for students to hang out and study for a few hours, which is something that is lacking downtown. I’m confident that the business would thrive in State College because it’s the happy medium between coffee shop and full-blown restaurant. Besides, who could say no to freshly sliced prosciutto?
Ryan Parsons: Grocery Store, Trader Joes
Goodbye, H&M, and hello, overpriced fruits and vegetables. It’s about damn time we get a proper grocery store on the west side of downtown State College. While the Target right above the old H&M and even places like McLanahan’s offer some produce options, most folks know you have to go out to North or South Atherton to really get the job done in the grocery department.
While this space might be a tad small for a big grocery store like Giant, it would be the perfect size for a Trader Joe’s or even a new, local spot. Let’s be real: getting a TJ’s downtown would simply be a game-changer, especially for those of us who live on the west side of town. Stuffed gnocchi right down the street? Yes, please.
Sam Brungo: Plumber’s Union
When you add Penn State into the mix, State College has a population of roughly 90 thousand, placing it as the fifth-largest city in the state. This is all before accounting for surrounding areas including Boalsburg and Bellefonte. While State College does have 19 labor unions in the greater metro area, they do not have a place in the district for the plumbers union.
In fact, the closest is in Harrisburg, which is nearly an hour and a half away. With State College growing quickly due to the addition of high rises, the need for plumbing has grown as well.
The newest apartment building, The Standard, has more than a thousand toilets, but plumbing doesn’t just stop there. These workers operate on anything from pipes to sinks, which likely doubles the number of appliances under their supervision. Multiply this by the amount of high-rise apartment complexes, you’ll get the gist of how extensive of a job is.
We already have plenty of shopping centers and chain restaurants (all of which add more plumbing to the mix). We are in need of backing our blue-collar workers who keep this town we know and love afloat. That said, the H&M building should not only be transformed into a home for the Plumbers Union but the hub for other unions in the same boat that are in need of representation.
Caitlin Burns: Joe Pa’s Closet
A permanent location for Joe Pa’s Closet would be an awesome replacement to H&M. Vintage Penn State clothing is highly sought-after, and it would make it much more accessible.
Zac Cowell, a Penn State grad and the owner of Joe Pa’s closet, has pop-up shops at 3 Dots, Doggie’s, and other locations downtown all the time. A permanent storefront for him to sell items would be very unique and successful if it was plausible for him to keep the store stocked.
Haylee Yocum: Sheetz
I was never in the H&M downtown, so I don’t know exactly how large it is. But I do know that it’s big enough for a Sheetz. There’s one on Pugh Street, but if you’re not actively looking for it, you’d never see it. Unless I go home for a weekend or take the bus to a different part of State College, there’s no way for me to experience walking through the doors of a Sheetz and seeing everything laid out in front of me.
Don’t even talk to me about a Wawa. This is Sheetz territory without a doubt. The food is better and the vibes are immaculate, especially for a college town. Downtown State College deserves a second, and better, Sheetz.
Charles Reinert: Wawa
I know it’s cliché, and I don’t care.
I miss Wawa so much when I’m away from home. It’s the lifeblood of the Philadelphia area, and it’s always one of the first places I go when I return home. That said, what’s to stop the goose from coming to central Pennsylvania? They would make money hand over fist from the large student body that’s from the eastern side of the state and New Jersey.
I know I’d go there almost every day to grab me a Sizzli. Plus, all the yinzers here in State College get both a Sheetz and a Primanti’s to give them a taste of home. I think it’s high time we wooder-drinking folks get something to help level the playing field.
Rachel Padnis: Wegmans
Wegman’s should absolutely replace the H&M downtown. I don’t know how anyone could be opposed to bringing the magic of Wegmans to the hoards of people living in the Borough and on campus.
I live for my 15-minute car rides to the Collonade, but having a Wegmans close by would make my life a million times easier. I’m sure I speak for everyone living on campus when I say that the market fruit just doesn’t hit the same.
Rico Gore: OPP Memorabilia Museum
I would like to see an OPP Memorabilia Museum because OPP still doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. This world-class museum would be the “Ripley’s Believe It or Not!” of Penn State. I’d love to see this magnificent place include exhibits including, but not limited to, the first-ever OPP vehicle and the standard work schedule of the original OPP personnel. This public space would bring some more interesting history and beautiful art to the State College area.
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About the Author
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