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Sense of Community, Quaint Charm Sets Beaver Borough Apart

Located 40 minutes northwest of Pittsburgh, Beaver Borough offers residents and visitors public parks, tree-lined streets and a flourishing downtown full of shops and restaurants. The 200-year-old town’s rich history is evident in the 317-acre Beaver Historic District, containing examples of architecture, monuments and objects from the 19th through the early 20th century.

“We have jewelry and women's clothes and candy and ice cream and just great food—I mean, you could literally enjoy many hours just hanging around Beaver,” said Mike Cirelli, who has co-owned Cirelli’s Fine Jewelry with his wife, Jodie, for 35 years. “It's just an interesting place to visit. It's very clean, and crime is virtually nil.”

When he was 20, Cirelli started working as a jewelry repairman for department and jewelry stores throughout the Beaver Valley. His job entailed picking up items in need of repairs from stores and personally delivering the completed pieces to customers. When the Cirellis decided to open their own jewelry shop in 1985, they had a specific municipality in mind.

“We looked into Beaver and they had a high traffic concentration and the county courthouse, and it seemed like the place to go,” said Cirelli, adding that Beaver also has a large, full-service, independently owned grocery store in the center of town.

In 1991, the Cirelli’s jewelry store operated from a 500 sq. ft. showroom before they purchased the entire 676 Third Street building across the street. Cirelli’s Fine Jewelry remains in this 1,100 sq. ft. space today, offering jewelry repairs, custom jewelry, diamond setting and other services on-site.

Since opening her studio in 2010, Andrea Kirkham has relocated Sangha Center for Yoga and Wellness three times—all within the same city block.

“I really wanted to stay in Beaver because it is the cutest, quaintest little town and the community is really loyal,” said Kirkham. “I don't think I'd want to ever go anywhere else.”

Kirkham opened her business after Coraopolis-based Three Rivers Yoga hired her to teach at their now-defunct Beaver location. As she was finishing her yoga training, she was laid off from her financial-sector job during the 2008 recession. The Three Rivers Yoga owner asked Kirkham if she wanted to purchase the Beaver business. Though she initially had not planned on opening her own studio, Kirkham said that switching careers to pursue her passion has been wonderful for her well-being and mental health.

Kirkham finds that there is plenty to do in Beaver when she isn’t working. For instance, she shops and dines within the borough to boost the local economy.

“I just kind of try and be loyal to the other small businesses because we all try and support each other. It’s just lovely,” she said. “If I have a long break, I go for a walk on River Road, because it's beautiful down there. I can go sit on a bench in the summertime and eat lunch or just go for a walk and look around.”

Similarly, Waffles, INCaffeinated owner Gordon Sheffer enjoys sitting in the restaurant’s outdoor seating area when it’s open, and watching passersby along bustling Third Street. The first Waffles, INCaffeinated opened in 2010 in New Brighton, and Sheffer and his team subsequently closed that location and opened the Beaver restaurant in 2014. Since 2010, Waffles, INCaffeinated, which serves gourmet waffles and sandwiches, as well as custom coffee orders, has opened three additional restaurants in South Side, downtown Pittsburgh and Wexford. The company plans to expand by opening two more locations and launching franchise sales by 2022. “Beaver is a quaint town and county seat, with lots of foot traffic in the business area,” Sheffer said. “It is also easily accessible from many directions. We have customers at our Beaver location from as far as the West Virginia panhandle, East Liverpool, OH, the Sharon/Hermitage area and Moon Township.”

Waffles, INCaffeinated was one of the first Beaver businesses to open on Sundays. Since then, other shops and restaurants have followed. “Sunday is our busiest day, so customer reaction was fantastic,” Sheffer said.

Sheffer and Kirkham agree that, while some aspects of Beaver feel like they are rooted in the past, others are evolving. They cited the pre-COVID additions of the Light-Up Night Festival, Wine Festival and Hot Summer Nights Car Cruise events as attracting people to the borough.

“Otherwise, the town has stayed much the same, which may be one of its charms,” Sheffer said.

“The stores have changed slightly here and there, even though some of the staples have been here forever and they're still wonderful,” added Kirkham. “I think that freshness has helped everything remain relevant in town. I think that sense of community is not only inside my shop, but it's the whole street; the whole town. It's really a very close-knit community.”

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