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Derrick Dixon in his barbershop at Dixon Kutz in Strasbug on Monday, Nov. 8, 2021.

As a young boy, Derrick Dixon drove with his family through Strasburg on the way to Millersville to visit his great-grandmother. The area impressed him so much that as an adult, he chose to open his barber business, Dixon Kutz, there.

“I took a big liking to Strasburg – the horse and buggies and the railroad and that kind of stuff. It was always a presence as a kid growing up,” Dixon says. 

A fourth-generation barber, Dixon does what’s in his blood and what he loves. His nephew, brother, sister, cousin, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother all work in the business.

Dixon says business has grown despite opening in January 2021 during the pandemic. The support of other small businesses on the square, he says, “gave me the momentum to keep moving.”

He searched four years for a shop location and found it on the second floor of a historically renovated building at 10 E. Main St. in Strasburg Borough’s square. The shop’s open beams, original wood floors and exposed brick walls make the space simultaneously modern yet historic. 

Staying true to historic architecture sits at the top of Strasburg’s priorities. It’s a blessing and a challenge for small businesses, but they see its value. Kimberley Jade, who along with her husband, Ken, owns Wire to Fire Artisans across the street from Dixon’s, found the quaintness alluring.

“Strasburg is the most historically kept town in Lancaster County,” Jade says. “There’s not a lot of commercialism – and that can be a deterrent for me because as a shop owner you need foot traffic – but for the person … looking for a quieter pace, it’s the place to be.”

Born and raised in Lancaster County, Jade now lives a few hours north, but with grandchildren in Strasburg, the connection grew stronger. They plan to return when Ken retires. 

Hailing from a family of mineral collectors, Jade learned her skills from her father, a geologist and gemologist. She’s been making jewelry for more than 50 years and spent 29 years doing juried shows. It’s those shows and their loyal customer base that kept the business afloat during the three years they’ve been in Strasburg.

The couple plans to have two days of specials – Black Friday and Small Business Saturday – to bring in locals. The shop specializes in the Judeo-Christian theme and sells works of 30 artisans, including Jade’s own jewelry and gemstones.

“We want to do something special (because) we made it three years through COVID, and we also want to give back to the people that are working on trying to find something to get for the holidays and getting frustrated with everything being out of stock or taking too long,” Jade says. 

Ken will be onsite making Jade’s signature gemstone bracelets. Customers can bring their own stone or select one there, and then take their fitted bracelets home with them. Also, a spinning wheel will present a chance to win a freebie or 10% to 20% off.

Next door, New Creations Studio also plans two days of deals. Owner Lisa Frankford operated the beauty salon for 12 years on Decatur Street and moved to Main Street in 2020. Frankford will offer discounts and 20% discounts on all the hair products that can fit in a bag. 

“I’m blessed to be part of a community that works together,” Frankford says. “It’s fun, especially to see new businesses coming up.” 

Her beauty shop is just across the street from Dixon’s second-floor barbershop and a tattoo parlor, both new businesses.

On the first floor is The Tavern, opened just last month by Spring House Brewery featuring food from chef Andrew Denton of Black Goat Gastro Pub. It holds the distinction of being the only business open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. 

Artwork hanging on the walls of The Tavern was created by fellow small business owner Tim Nies. Neis and wife Kristie own Barebones Bicycles, also on Main Street. He says his business is for the community; he knows his customers, and they know him. He sells and services bikes, and he claims the shop is the only one in Lancaster County that restores bikes. 

A former scenic painter for Atomic Design, Nies’ passion is building and fixing things, but he still has ideas for paintings for The Tavern’s walls to go along with the beers. 

The Tavern general manager Andrea Nesbitt says Tim and Kristie Neis were among the first to patronize the business. 

“The local people are happy we’re here,” Nesbitt says. “They can walk here, and they’re happy to have two great places to bring great beer to Strasburg.”

The other “great beer” place is Bespoke Brewery, opened last August by Ryan and Janae Dagen and their partner, Jon Sager. 

Sager and Ryan Dagen had worked together in the past but reunited by chance. Sager had been brewing beer at home while attending Millersville University to earn a bachelor’s in molecular biology and a minor in biochemistry. The Dagens were operating the Speckled Hen, which they also own, and talked one day to a mutual friend about wanting to open a brewery. The friend mentioned Sager and his beer.  

“We knew each other but I didn’t know he brewed, and he didn’t know I was looking to open a brewery, Ryan Dagen says. 

The brewery currently operates at 40% capacity as it waits for delivery of tanks delayed by supply chain challenges. It’s open Fridays and Saturdays, but expanded hours will come.

“Small Business Saturday is an opportunity for locals to express their gratitude to their favorite businesses, and vice versa, as businesses it’s our opportunity to express our gratitude to our regulars,” Dagen says. 

Bespoke and Speckled Hen will offer specials in both businesses and a free $5 gift card for every $50 worth of gift cards purchased.

Businesses that depend on local buyers appreciate the tourists who travel in for Sight and Sound, Strasburg Rail Road, antique shops, historic inns, and bed and breakfast establishments. 

“(Tourism) adds a lot of vibrancy to the community,” Dagen says. “As businesses, we all benefit from tourism, but what really keeps us going is the local crowd and the regulars.” 

 

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