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Keep New Hope weird, say shop owners who worry the town’s eclectic downtown will go mainstream

Kevin Riordan, The Philadelphia Inquirer on

Published in Fashion Daily News

The busiest downtown intersection in New Hope, Pennsylvania, has a Starbucks, a Dunkin,’ an empty storefront, and a shop called Love Saves the Day.

“We’re trying to keep New Hope weird,” said Stasia Kauriga, whose store at Bridge and Main Streets is a showcase for vintage clothing and pop culture memorabilia. It’s a signal that this is no ordinary town.

“Places like Love Saves the Day are what make New Hope funky,” said Lori Stagnitto, founder of a Facebook page called Save New Hope’s History & Funky Soul.

“New Hope is a 250-year-old patchwork quilt of buildings that together tell a beautiful story,” she said. “But now the story is all about developers ripping out buildings and replacing them with synthetics.”

A Bucks County borough of 1.4 square miles and 2,700 people, New Hope overlooks a scenic stretch of the Delaware River between the metropolitan expanses of Philadelphia and New York. The town has long been known as a welcoming place for artists, artisans, eccentrics, LGBTQ people, lovers of antiques, and proprietors of unusual small businesses.

Day-trippers and vacationers are drawn by the town’s cachet as well as by the proximity of vibrant downtown Lambertville, New Jersey, a short walk across the New Hope-Lambertville Bridge.


But higher rents in the five-block-long Main Street historic district have put the borough out of reach for many emerging artists and aspiring entrepreneurs. Service workers who staff the restaurants, hotels, and other businesses are having to commute.

“Young people are being priced out by the gentrification of everything,” said Hope Gaburo, 24, a painter. She’s one of six artists renting discounted studio space at New Hope Arts. Otherwise she couldn’t afford to make art downtown, she said.

Plus, the pandemic boosted residential sales to out-of-towners looking to relocate, according to real estate professionals, borough officials, and developers.

“Twenty years ago we had maybe 35 homes worth a million or more, and today we have a couple hundred,” said Larry Keller, an antiques store owner who has served as New Hope’s mayor for 26 years.


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