by David Croyle
Kittanning has lost another local business this week.
Howard Gordon has operated “I Buy Gold”, a purchaser of gold jewelry. He also specialized in antiques and buying/selling older bicycles.
Gordon, a Lower Burrell resident, came to Kittanning to start his business in June 2009. He rented the former McConnell-Watterson hardware store building next to Klingensmith’s Drug Store on Market Street. He said his first few years were prosperous.
“When I came, it took a little while to build up. I had a good run here in Kittanning. For a few years, I really did well.”
Gordon said that it was in 2013 when business began to wane.
“It’s been a downturn across the board, not just in Kittanning. The gold rush is over.
Gordon was also known for collecting and restoring antiques. He showcased everything from a carousel to old-fashioned juke boxes. His store at times resembled a first class museum of treasures.
“I tried antiques for awhile but there just isn’t enough money in town for people to buy luxury items.”
A big bicycle enthusiast, Gordon had over 50 antique bicycles on display at his store, but privately said he had another 50 sitting in his shop at home. Most of them pre-dated 1960.
“I have some from the 1890′s at home. They’re not too flamboyant. They are pretty plain looking! My favorite was the Indian bicycle I had here in the store on display. It’s one of the first bikes I bought. Indian motorcycle made it. Good original condition! It came out of an attic down in Leechburg. ”
As Gordon walked to his door one last time, he looked out toward Market Street and felt empathy for local shop owners.
“It has gone sour. The bridge closing… construction… You come looking on the street in the middle of the day and there is nobody here. You have to have people to do business.”
He had some advice for the local ‘Town Fathers’ from an outsider that made Kittanning his livelihood.
“I wouldn’t worry about fixing the street corners. I would worry about the sidewalks and the pot holes, and maybe trying to get some businesses into the empty store fronts. A little bit of grant money to fix the place up a bit. Do something about the drug problem. I think that is the biggest problem Kittanning has right now.”
Gordon’s plan sounded more like retirement than shutting down a business.
“I’m going to enjoy myself. I’m going to work on my bikes, wheel and deal a little bit like I always did. Maybe my wife will get sick of me and make me go to work somewhere, but I hope that doesn’t happen. We get along pretty good. I told her this morning I was going to help her bake cookies and she said ‘No you’re not!’”
Pulling the key from the lock for the last time and walking to his car, he sighed briefly.
“I had a good run here. I had a good time. I made a lot of good friend. I’m going to miss them, but all things come to pass!”
And Kittanning will miss Howard Gordon too!