Small Business Booming Despite Recession

By Josh Freeman

TARENTUM, Pa. – Since opening in 2005, Ben’s Homebrew has provided a spark of interest to area shoppers, Tarentum businesses, and hopeful business owners.

While opening a personal business in a small town proves to be risky these days, Ben’s Homebrew has proven to be successful and has helped other businesses in the town with its unique environment.  The store provides a diverse setting when compared to restaurants, bars, and businesses surrounding it. 

The store contains ingredients for beer making such as hops, wheat, and barley.  Ben’s Homebrew also provides equipment for wine making and bottles and caps for storing purposes.  Many people are drawn to the store to pursue their own hobbies or experiment with a new hobby they want to try out.

Tarentum, a small town that has faced economic stress over the years, has seen many small businesses go under.  However, small businesses like Ben’s Homebrew are needed to make a town operate to its fullest potential and draw other businesses.

“In order to have a successful business, you have to take some risks along the way,” said the owner, Ben Knoerdel.  “The more businesses small towns like Tarentum inherit helps the overall well being of a community.”

Many people who shop in Tarentum are intrigued by the small business and become curious to what it has to offer. 

“A lot of the people who come in here have never experienced home brewing but want to find out what it’s all about,” Knoerdel said.

Edward McCoy, a retiree from Allegheny Ludlum, has been a resident of Tarentum all of his life.  He has enjoyed the hobby of home brewing for most of his later years.

“I think the idea of Ben’s store is a great idea for our town,” McCoy said.  “I’ve been around this town all of my life and have seen small businesses go in and out constantly, Ben’s Homebrew is a different story.” 

McCoy also said that Ben’s Homebrew provided stability for Tarentum’s East 6th Avenue business district.

Many other small family operated businesses in Tarentum have also been successful. 

Brian Maskas, an employee of his family operated business, Maskas and Sons Candy and Wholesale Distributing, knows what it takes to run a small business.  His family’s business is one of the oldest wholesale businesses Tarentum has to offer.

“I think what Ben has done is a great idea for our community, he had a real unique idea and followed through with it,” Maskas said. 

Maskas also said that operating a small business proves to be difficult when there are so many bigger competitors out there.

Although Knoerdel started his business because of his passion for home brewing, he also did it for another important reason.

“I want to see other small businesses come into Tarentum and be successful so that we can all help each other out and promote the town,” he said.

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