• Gabriel Donio

Possible businesses for few remaining local vacancies


The sign “Chez Bippy” painted on the large plate-glass window of a former storefront of Third Street, a nod to the modern classic A Bronx Tale, which had a bar with that name in it. (THG/Gabe Donio. To purchase photos in The Gazette, call (609) 704-1940.)

This column was inspired by the fact that locally, even during the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the town continues to thrive commercially. This past weekend saw business doing well at the restaurants, stores, offices and other businesses throughout Hammonton. It made me recall some columns from previous years where I made suggestions about what additional businesses might benefit the town.


I’m pleased to write that some of the previous suggestions I made are no longer necessary, because those businesses have arrived in Hammonton in the intervening years. One of the suggestions—building a multiplex movie theater here—had to be shelved this time because the pandemic has made the construction of new multiplex theaters impractical.


Here are some more thoughts about what other commercial enterprises could benefit the town if they located their businesses here, filling our few remaining vacancies. Some of the businesses are in more than one district because they could just as easily fit in one as in the other.


Downtown


People love coming to downtown Hammonton. They love walking around, shopping, eating at restaurants or even doing business at the downtown area’s several offices. It seems as soon as a space opens up downtown, it is filled. New stores like the clothing and gift shop Perhaps; Downtown Nutrition; the restaurant Marquez; New Era of Mystical Trends; and coming soon, Hammonton Pickle Express, the pickle sandwich restaurant, have all added to a downtown that was already humming along. What else could the area use? How about a new or used bookstore; a music store (records, CDs or instruments); a boutique shoe store; a men’s store; a steakhouse; a seafood restaurant; another art gallery; a store called Pine Barrens Sports (a sporting goods store catering to outdoors-loving people with camping gear, kayaks, canoes, clothing and other items, all using the Pine Barrens tree frog as a logo); a boutique hotel; a sports memorabilia store and a museum of Italian-American history and agriculture.


Little Italy


I have enjoyed watching the homes and businesses of this area spruce up their properties in the last few years. (Favorite new addition: the sign “Chez Bippy” painted on the large plate-glass window of a former storefront of Third Street, a nod to the modern classic A Bronx Tale, which had a bar with that name in it.) Now it is time to add a barber shop, another sit-down Italian restaurant; a cigar store; and a museum of Italian-American history and agriculture. It would also be nice to see vibrant uses for the former St. Joseph Convent and the portion of the St. Joseph Elementary School building not already being used for the Little Cubs Pre-K.


Uptown


It would be nice to see Walmart expand into a Supercenter. The $27 million renovation project that is turning the former Econo Lodge into New Standard Senior Living has been complemented by upgrades and new tenants at Blueberry Crossing Shopping Center, Peach Tree Plaza, Village Shops, Broadway Square and Hammonton Square. With a strong commercial foundation, uptown (running from the Elm section of Winslow Twp. to Mullica Twp. on the White Horse Pike (Route 30) in Hammonton, and from Route 30 up Route 206 from Hammonton to Shamong) can now expand its growth. How? Maybe by bringing in larger retailers like Marshall’s; Kohl’s; Target; TJ Maxx; and Home Depot or Lowe’s. Another chain shoe or sneaker store would be welcomed; a chain pet store; a Chick-fil-A and other chain restaurants; the further expansion of AtlantiCare Health Park; and an additional children’s entertainment or fun venue.


Business Park


NJM Insurance, Massarelli’s, Universal Supply, Aon and Kramer Beverage are leading the way in this commercial area. It’s also been a pleasure to see construction businesses like Berenato Contractors, Lexa Concrete and CTX Construction investing in the area, along with retail shopping centers like Raspberry Run. What’s next? Possibly more office buildings that will bring quality jobs to Hammonton; manufacturing plants; chain restaurants; warehouses and another children’s entertainment or fun venue. All would be welcome in the business park.


Another note: In order to make it stand out as a district, the business park should have low, lit signage at the intersection of 12th Street and Second Road and along S. Egg Harbor Road that says “Hammonton Business Park” in the same font and colors as the signage on the water towers and soon, Hammonton Lake Park. It would be nice to have some signage and banners for Little Italy and uptown as well.


Do you have any suggestions for new businesses in any of the commercial districts? Email me at donio@hammontongazette.com or call The Gazette at (609) 704-1940 and leave your suggestions.




Gabe Donio is the publisher of The Hammonton Gazette.