When Darlene Yost and her daughter Briana started planning to open a woman’s boutique in Bethlehem, they thought first of a storefront on the SouthSide because they were aiming for young clientele.
However, Mrs. Yost had second thoughts about safety in South Bethlehem after a late 2010 in which a street gang targeted students. So Briana’s Boutique @ Five Twenty opened at 520 Main St. in the Historic North Side Downtown.
But on Thursday, as the shop celebrated a successful one-year anniversary with a grand opening and ribbon cutting with Mayor John Callahan, Mrs. Yost was again concerned. The day before, armed robbers pulled off at , just a few doors south.
“I’m scared for myself and my daughter,” she said candidly. “If they’re going to do something like that in broad daylight, what are they going to do at night? I’m very concerned.”
Mayor John Callahan said he had not heard a great deal of concern from downtown merchants since Wednesday’s robbery. “You’re not going to find a safer stretch of downtown than you have here in Downtown Bethlehem,” the mayor said.
are searching for the two robbers who held the shopkeepers at gunpoint and tied them up before taking an unreleased amount of jewelry.
And on Thursday, police told The Express-Times they believe that a third accomplice may have been stationed outside as a lookout while the robbery was completed.
Police were out in force on Main Street Thursday.
The Mounted Unit was on the spot when two youths tried to from the Historic Bethlehem Partnership’s Blacksmith Shop at 425 Main St. And just moments after the ribbon cutting at Briana’s was complete, two officers were visible walking the downtown streets.
The night before, patrol units quickly put an end to a string of , capturing three of five suspects within two hours of the first 911 calls.
Still, there remained a buzz and a sense of shock about what had transpired at Dancing Designs the day before.
“This is a beautiful place,” Mrs. Yost said. “I wouldn’t want this to deter customers from coming downtown or to discourage someone from opening a business downtown.”