Archive for category Business

Small Business Holiday Shopping In Stroudsburg

STROUDSBURG — It certainly looks like the holiday shopping season on Main Street in Stroudsburg. The lights are lit. The businesses are open, and shoppers are buying. This past Saturday was Small Business Saturday, a day when people are urged to shop at small, local businesses. “Small Business Saturday was a huge success. It’s so cool to see people coming together to support each other rather than just shopping at big name stores. We had so many warm bodies in […]

Longtime Hoagie Shop Reopens in Moosic

MOOSIC — A longtime hoagie shop in part of Lackawanna County is back in business after the owners closed earlier this year. Even before the noon hour, there was a wait for the type of grub you can only get under one roof in Moosic. Berlew’s Original Hoagies is under new ownership and customers are sure glad to have it back after the former owners closed in June. “It was a sad day, been coming here at least once a […]

Quick Response Saves Business from Destruction

TEXAS TOWNSHIP — A faulty appliance may have caused a fire at a business that sells and fixes things like chainsaws and mowers in Wayne County. Employees at Aigner Small Engine Repair Center assessed the damage hours after flames ripped through the business along Route 6 near Honesdale. Photos from Alert Hook and Ladder #2’s Facebook page show smoke pouring from the building shortly after 2 a.m. Crews were able to stop the flames from destroying the entire place and everything […]

Another local Kmart to close as Sears realigns, looks online

The region will lose two stores by the end of November.

Within weeks, the Allentown area will go from three Kmarts to one, the discount store’s parent company said.
In late …

Duo booted from Palmer parking lots return, leading to arrest, cops say

One of the out-of-state pair had been issued a verbal warning and was charged with trespass.

Two men told by police to stay out of the Home Depot and Giant parking lots in P…

Brothers find success with childhood invention sold in Lehigh Valley

The game, known as “QB54” retails for $99.54 at Bed, Bath and Beyond and various online retailers, including Amazon.

An idea launched in their childhood to get out of washing dishes after holiday meals has turned two now-adult brothers into promising entrepreneurs.

Michael Silva recalls what he and brother, Frank Silva, an East Stroudsburg University grad who now lives in Georgia, would do the second Thanksgiving dinner was over and the boys saw their mother starting to collect mounds of dishware from the table.

“It was our time to duck out,” Michael, of South Brunswick, New Jersey, said with a chuckle. 

The brothers, Manalapan, New Jersey natives, would retreat to the back yard and set up a game they crafted similar to football without tackling, called both “The Thanksgiving Classic” and “The Quarterback Challenge.”

The premise was to throw a football into one of two garbage cans for a touchdown and then kick the ball through antennas placed on their father’s pickup truck for the extra point.

The first to 54 points wins, Michael said.

Little did the brothers know at the time that their childhood creation someday would be marketed at retailers across the Lehigh Valley and beyond.

The creation,”QB54″ or “Quarterback 54,” currently is on shelves at Bed, Bath and Beyond in the Southmont Shopping Center in Bethlehem Township and at the Whitehall Mall in Whitehall Township.

The game retails for $99.54, but on Thursday was going for $115 on Amazon. Since being marketed in November 2016, Michael estimates thousands of games have been sold.

Adolescent Invention

The brothers never actually thought about patenting their adolescent invention until there was a fear someone could steal their intellectual property rights, Michael said.

That thought occurred when Michael in November 2015 traveled down to Georgia to see Frank and his family for Thanksgiving. After dinner, the pair decided to give their childhood game a whirl and began setting up 5-gallon buckets in Frank’s yard.

The brothers began tossing the football around when a male neighbor walked by and wanted to get in on the game. The neighbor stuck around for three hours, clearly hooked on the game, and began telling the brothers he was stunned no one thought of the concept before, Michael Silva said.

A fan of the ABC Network’s “Shark Tank, a reality show in which entrepreneurs get the chance to bring their ideas to fruition, Michael said he began seriously contemplating it. And up until that point, the neighbor was the first person to ever express the same interest the brothers had — a fear others could catch on and steal the idea, he said.

“The guy (neighbor) came out the next morning, said he researched it over the Internet and said, ‘I don’t think this exists,’ ” Michael Silva recalled. “That was the aha moment. I said to Frank, ‘I think we got something here, bro.'”

Consumer interest

The Silva brothers then began constructing kits and came up with the idea to use two fold-able chairs instead of cans and added thick goal posts made out of PVC, a football and a large bag to store it all in.

This way spectators could bring the game to sporting events or use it during tailgating, Michael said. They eventually added colors of sports teams, such as black and gold for the Pittsburgh Steelers; midnight green and black for the Philadelphia Eagles; and blue for the New York Giants.

The next step was trying to secure an invention patent, which is currently pending and could take several years, Michael said.

They initially began ordering bulk sets of 500 folding chairs from China and custom assembling each set as orders came in. They sold the kits at sporting events their children were playing in and quickly the games were selling out.

“People started walking by asking, ‘What is this?’ and ‘Where can I get it?'” Michael said. “I knew then we had lightning in a bottle and had to go after it.”

Their success quickly began to exceed the growing operation and the brothers eventually partnered with a manufacturer to fully assemble the kits before shipping them out nationally and internationally.

It wasn’t until the friend of a Bed, Bath and Beyond regional manager turned out to a lacrosse tournament in Delaware, where Michael gave a player some kits to sell, that the pair eventually got their big break into retail stores. The Bed, Bath and Beyond manager was responsible for more than 50 stores iand was eager to sell the game on his shelves, Michael said. 

Shortly after, a producer for the ABC Network’s “Funderdome,” a business reality competition show hosted by Steve Harvey, saw a Kickstarter campaign video by the brothers online and and contacted them offering a spot on the show. The Silvas appeared this past August and were able to broadcast QB54 before millions of viewers.

“It’s been a crazy ride,” Michael said of the success.

Aside from Bed, Bath and Beyond, QB54 also has been picked up at Amazon, Olympia Sports, Scheels, Schuykill Valley Sports and some online retailers. And the brothers have even more aspirations to grow the brand.

A goal is to obtain NFL and college football licensing to place the logos of sports teams onto merchandise. They currently are working on co-sponsorship deals with such companies as The Greene Turtle in North Brunswick, the snack brand company UTZ and a major beer distributor.

They’ve also reached out to such nonprofit organizations as “Play for Freedom,” which offers wellness workshops conducted to better the lives of local hospitalized U.S. war veterans. Through his work with the nonprofit, Michael was introduced to former New York Giants player Odessa Turner, who recorded a testimonial for QB54 after seeing veterans use it.

“We’re not a one-trick pony,” Michael Silva said. “We have lots of ideas upstairs that we can’t wait to execute.”

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at pholzmann@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @pamholzmann. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

Brothers find success with childhood invention sold in Lehigh Valley

The game, known as “QB54” retails for $99.54 at Bed, Bath and Beyond and various online retailers, including Amazon.

An idea launched in their childhood to get out of washing dishes after holiday meals has turned two now-adult brothers into promising entrepreneurs.

Michael Silva recalls what he and brother, Frank Silva, an East Stroudsburg University grad who now lives in Georgia, would do the second Thanksgiving dinner was over and the boys saw their mother starting to collect mounds of dishware from the table.

“It was our time to duck out,” Michael, of South Brunswick, New Jersey, said with a chuckle. 

The brothers, Manalapan, New Jersey natives, would retreat to the back yard and set up a game they crafted similar to football without tackling, called both “The Thanksgiving Classic” and “The Quarterback Challenge.”

The premise was to throw a football into one of two garbage cans for a touchdown and then kick the ball through antennas placed on their father’s pickup truck for the extra point.

The first to 54 points wins, Michael said.

Little did the brothers know at the time that their childhood creation someday would be marketed at retailers across the Lehigh Valley and beyond.

The creation,”QB54″ or “Quarterback 54,” currently is on shelves at Bed, Bath and Beyond in the Southmont Shopping Center in Bethlehem Township and at the Whitehall Mall in Whitehall Township.

The game retails for $99.54, but on Thursday was going for $115 on Amazon. Since being marketed in November 2016, Michael estimates thousands of games have been sold.

Adolescent Invention

The brothers never actually thought about patenting their adolescent invention until there was a fear someone could steal their intellectual property rights, Michael said.

That thought occurred when Michael in November 2015 traveled down to Georgia to see Frank and his family for Thanksgiving. After dinner, the pair decided to give their childhood game a whirl and began setting up 5-gallon buckets in Frank’s yard.

The brothers began tossing the football around when a male neighbor walked by and wanted to get in on the game. The neighbor stuck around for three hours, clearly hooked on the game, and began telling the brothers he was stunned no one thought of the concept before, Michael Silva said.

A fan of the ABC Network’s “Shark Tank, a reality show in which entrepreneurs get the chance to bring their ideas to fruition, Michael said he began seriously contemplating it. And up until that point, the neighbor was the first person to ever express the same interest the brothers had — a fear others could catch on and steal the idea, he said.

“The guy (neighbor) came out the next morning, said he researched it over the Internet and said, ‘I don’t think this exists,’ ” Michael Silva recalled. “That was the aha moment. I said to Frank, ‘I think we got something here, bro.'”

Consumer interest

The Silva brothers then began constructing kits and came up with the idea to use two fold-able chairs instead of cans and added thick goal posts made out of PVC, a football and a large bag to store it all in.

This way spectators could bring the game to sporting events or use it during tailgating, Michael said. They eventually added colors of sports teams, such as black and gold for the Pittsburgh Steelers; midnight green and black for the Philadelphia Eagles; and blue for the New York Giants.

The next step was trying to secure an invention patent, which is currently pending and could take several years, Michael said.

They initially began ordering bulk sets of 500 folding chairs from China and custom assembling each set as orders came in. They sold the kits at sporting events their children were playing in and quickly the games were selling out.

“People started walking by asking, ‘What is this?’ and ‘Where can I get it?'” Michael said. “I knew then we had lightning in a bottle and had to go after it.”

Their success quickly began to exceed the growing operation and the brothers eventually partnered with a manufacturer to fully assemble the kits before shipping them out nationally and internationally.

It wasn’t until the friend of a Bed, Bath and Beyond regional manager turned out to a lacrosse tournament in Delaware, where Michael gave a player some kits to sell, that the pair eventually got their big break into retail stores. The Bed, Bath and Beyond manager was responsible for more than 50 stores iand was eager to sell the game on his shelves, Michael said. 

Shortly after, a producer for the ABC Network’s “Funderdome,” a business reality competition show hosted by Steve Harvey, saw a Kickstarter campaign video by the brothers online and and contacted them offering a spot on the show. The Silvas appeared this past August and were able to broadcast QB54 before millions of viewers.

“It’s been a crazy ride,” Michael said of the success.

Aside from Bed, Bath and Beyond, QB54 also has been picked up at Amazon, Olympia Sports, Scheels, Schuykill Valley Sports and some online retailers. And the brothers have even more aspirations to grow the brand.

A goal is to obtain NFL and college football licensing to place the logos of sports teams onto merchandise. They currently are working on co-sponsorship deals with such companies as The Greene Turtle in North Brunswick, the snack brand company UTZ and a major beer distributor.

They’ve also reached out to such nonprofit organizations as “Play for Freedom,” which offers wellness workshops conducted to better the lives of local hospitalized U.S. war veterans. Through his work with the nonprofit, Michael was introduced to former New York Giants player Odessa Turner, who recorded a testimonial for QB54 after seeing veterans use it.

“We’re not a one-trick pony,” Michael Silva said. “We have lots of ideas upstairs that we can’t wait to execute.”

Pamela Sroka-Holzmann may be reached at pholzmann@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @pamholzmann. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.

Car plows into 2 businesses in Palmer Township (PHOTOS)

Multiple employees and patrons were inside at the time, and all of them escaped injury, a fire official said.

An out-of-control car careened Friday afternoon into the Verizon sto…

Arresting situation in wall of Easton studio renovation

The business owner is familiar with history.

$35M Hotel Bethlehem expansion aims to bring 70K people to city

Mayor Bob Donchez recommended including the project in the city’s lucrative CRIZ.

Historic Hotel Bethlehem’s $35 million planned expansion brings so much to Bethlehem, Mayor Bob Donchez wants to add it into the city’s lucrative tax incentive zone.

Donchez announced Wednesday afternoon he backs adding the Main Street hotel’s massive project to the City Revitalization Improvement Zone. 

The expansion would make Hotel Bethlehem the largest conference center in the Lehigh Valley by doubling its meeting and events space and adding 73 guest rooms and suites.

“Our goal here is to make downtown Bethlehem the epicenter for meetings and conferences in the Lehigh Valley,” said Bruce A. Haines, Hotel Bethlehem managing partner.

The project would take the hotel from 110,000-square-feet to 213,695-square-feet, doubling its size. It is expected to draw 70,000 new visitors to the Christmas City and create 100 new jobs.

The hotel’s existing, private 100-spot parking deck would be razed to make way for a new 460-space parking garage with a four-story addition atop it. The new building would connect to the third floor of the hotel via a skywalk.

“The goal here is to really solidify Main Street with a bigger stronger anchor than we’ve been,” Haines said. “And to hopefully make it more attractive for other businesses to want to come to Main Street.”

Pa. hotel tax hike ‘puts entire industry at risk,’ official says

The mayor called it a wonderful project for the city.

“I view the hotel as the anchor of Main Street,” Donchez said.

Last November, the city put out a call for developers to submit new projects for inclusion in the zone after the Bethlehem Parking Authority asked to remove the CRIZ status from 1.3 acres of land it owned because its plans were no longer feasible.

This marks the third new project that Donchez has backed for inclusion into the 130-acre zone. The Bethlehem Revitalization and Improvement Authority last month approved two he’s already recommended, but set time limits for work to begin.

The authority will be asked to consider the hotel at its next meeting Oct. 19. Then the state must sign off on all CRIZ changes.

Bethlehem won the designation four years ago, but progress has been slow, leading the city and authority to push for shovel-ready projects. 

Big projects at 2 Bethlehem intersections get CRIZ boost

The mayor said he hopes Hotel Bethlehem could break ground within 18 months of approval. The hotel hopes to do so by the end of 2019 and open by the end of 2021, Haines said.

The CRIZ allows allows property owners to use certain future state and local taxes — including sales and liquor– created by CRIZ projects to pay off construction loans. For Hotel Bethlehem, it could slice its mortgage payment in half if business is strong, Haines said.

“(The CRIZ) helps to reduce the risk of a massive project like this,” he said.

The hotel has been planning the project since early 2016, Haines said, but without the CRIZ it wouldn’t happen.

The project is welcome news to Main Street merchants, who are eager to see more feet on the street and take advantage of the public parking the hotel promises to make available in its new parking deck. Many attended the press conference to support the hotel.

Hotel B has pledged to keep the garage open for paid, public parking at least 300 days a year, Haines said. The garage will exit onto Old York Road to minimize traffic onto Main Street and also include a walkway that will drop folks by the visitor’s center.

The addition will preserve the historic charm of the hotel inside and out with the same historic finishes down to the marble bathrooms, Haines pledged. Spillman Farmer is designing the project so it blends in with the existing Art Deco features.

The new large ballroom will be two-stories like the existing grand ballroom, but it will accomodate up to 400 wedding guests as opposed to the 200 now.

The design includes a new two-story terrace room with palladium windows modeled off of 1741 on the Terrace, so the hotel’s restaurant will not need to close for private events.

The hotel hopes the larger meeting space allows it to attract large conferences from New Jersey that currently bypass Bethlehem.

A proposal in Harrisburg to nearly double the state hotel tax to balance the state budget could complicate matters, Haines said.

“It could make it more difficult for us to attract that business,” Haines said.

Haines see the rise of Airbnb as an unregulated competitor to the hotel industry as a much bigger challenge on the horizon, he said.

Sara K. Satullo may be reached at ssatullo@lehighvalleylive.com. Follow her on Twitter @sarasatullo and Facebook. Find lehighvalleylive.com on Facebook.