The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

Local News

July 5, 2009

New store chooses downtown site

With plenty of boarded up storefronts in the city’s downtown, one local couple is bucking the economic tide and has opened a store that offers a little bit of everything needed by just about everyone.

Agora Discount Store, 551 Main St., opened its doors just over a month ago and is already seeing as many as 300 customers a day, Pam Wentz said.

“All of the people here, all of the business, the Vine Street Towers, we were thinking about them,” Wentz said.

Agora is Greek for marketplace, a description that sums up the merchandise and the atmosphere at the business owned by Wentz and her husband, Mark, of Dale Borough.

Jacqueline Cowan, 77, of Connor Towers, stopped in for a soft drink and added a blouse and a package of sliced cheese to her purchase Sunday.

“I’ve been over a couple times a week. I like the refrigerated foods and the clothes, Cowan said.

The business spirit of the couple is proving beneficial to the downtown, its residents and workers, Mayor Tom Trigona said.

“They seem to have everything there; they are centrally located,” Trigona said. “It’s the inner city, and anything we can do to bring people in is good.”

The list of goods is seemingly endless from socks, underwear and shirts, to frozen pizza, chicken breasts and sandwiches; scrapbooking, craft and party supplies to toys, personal items and tools. It even has a cafe.

The business is the third for the couple, who started with the Subway in Windber more than a decade ago. Pam Wentz also operated a day-care center for 13 years and continues at her full-time job in the funding department at the Riverside office of AmeriStar Home Mortgage Corp., which is headquartered in Johnstown.

Mark Wentz took the bold move of stepping down as property manager for AmeriStar and works full time at Agora.

“It was kind of scary just opening this up,” Pam Wentz said. “We have to leave it in God’s hands and work hard.”

They are assisted at the business by son Eric, a student at Millerville University; daughter Tara, a registered nurse at Memorial Medical Center; and five other employees.

Agora is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.

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