Wave Of New Vendors Opening In Scranton Marketplace

March 31, 2019

SCRANTON — Nick DeMarco is trying to cram two decades of video game nostalgia into 3,700 square feet. “This is basically as much ’80s and ’90s as I can put in it,” the owner of Nick D’s Video Game Vault and the RetroVerse Lounge said last week. The consummate collector and retro video game shop owner will be open for business Monday in his second-floor spot at the Marketplace at Steamtown. He’s moving from his former Mayfield location and part of the latest sweep of new businesses climbing aboard the Marketplace at Steamtown train. After a few years converting the traditional mall model, one dominated by national brands and franchises, the Marketplace is occupied almost entirely by small businesses and independent companies, and it’s gaining momentum. Five new vendors will occupy space in the main part of the mall and the Scranton Public Market in the former food court. On Wednesday, dozens of customers filled the second-floor tables for lunch. Vendors say they’ve seen a steady uptick in foot traffic, even during the workweek. Here’s a look at some of the other vendors planning to open in the coming days and weeks: n Dante Batten, a 30-year-old entrepreneur and caterer from New York, chatted with a maintenance worker outside his vendor stall, where he’s taking another stab at selling his grandmother Rosa Dorsey’s barbecue to Northeast Pennsylvania. Batten’s first attempt lasted a short time on Spruce Street. He closed and shifted focus on growing his catering business, Utopia Culinary Management, which serves markets in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, he said. He got the itch again when he saw excitement building for the Marketplace. “I think Scranton misses us,” he said, grinning. Shooting to be open in time for the city’s First Friday festivities in April, Batten will sell smoked brisket, chicken and waffles and pulled pork from his vendor stall, with Southern-style sides including triple-cheddar mac and cheese, he said. • Amber Cipriani won the Marketplace’s Your Art Here mural contest in June and now she’s opening her own art studio inside the Public Market area. The Hazleton Area School District art teacher, who lives in Scranton, plans to instruct classes in all kinds of media. She’s the muralist painting the wall inside the Center City Wine Cellar at the Marketplace. She plans to hold drop-in sessions in April with no formal training, just casual instruction. She’ll start formal classes in May, she said. Since winning the mural contest, Cipriani said she’s been offered more commissioned mural work, including inside the Marketplace. Now she’s thinking about how she returns the favor. “For small businesses to flourish, I think that we need to support one another,” she said. • Steamtown Sweets owner Joe Henselder is opening Make A Buddy, a local spin on the popular Build-A-Bear toy shops. For now he’ll offer a smaller selection of characters inside his first-floor candy store, but plans to take over the space vacated by Hallmark where he’ll have a wider selection, Marketplace Manager Jennifer Warnetsky said. • Rijuice, a company that sells bottled cold-pressed juice made from fruits and vegetables sourced around its Lancaster County headquarters, is to open in time for First Friday in April, too. The new business owners should all be ready in time for the mall’s Shop Small Steamtown Spring event the weekend starting May 3. “What struck me about Scranton is that there seems to be a very big movement led by Jenn (Warnetsky) and the rest of the community through the Public Market to bring these artisans and vendors together in one space,” said Rijuice partner Bryan Ortenzio. • Lastly, a sushi bar is planned for the Public Market, Warnetsky said, which could be open as early as May 1. Contact the writer: joconnell@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9131; @jon_oc on Twitter