BELLEVUE (KDKA) — Lincoln Avenue in Bellevue is a stroll through years past. The Lincoln Barbershop just turned fifty. Fred Dietz Florist has been selling bouquets for 57 years. And the Lincoln Bakery has entered its eighth decade. That makes the Rusty Nail’s 37 years seem recent, by comparison. Owner Joe Elbicki says there’s just a special feel to this town.

“It reminds me of the old towns, when you were growing up, with that home town feel. Its just a great little community.”

But 18 empty store fronts serve notice that this town suffers, like many others, from shopping center competition. Now, the community is responding with storefront art installations, to lure businesses back home.

“This that we’re approaching was at one time a salon,” says Carolyn LaQuatro, president of the Bellevue Business Center.

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She says the storefront, now festooned in “Pittsburghese,” was the first to take on a cheerful new look. Apparently, it worked. New owners are opening a cafe. And it’s not the only new business opening in Bellevue.

“We’ve had a couple new retail stores,” Carolyn LaQuatro says. “They had an on-line presence first, then they opened a physical store. And that’s what we’d like to see, more retail come back in Bellevue – so people who don’t have transportation can shop in the neighborhood.”

The North Side native recalls coming to Bellevue as a little girl.

“Oh my goodness. it was thriving. The streets were teeming with people. There were two theaters. Bowling alleys.”
Another storefront features mannequins, with mirrors where the faces should be.

“The idea of the mirror,” says my guide, “is to step up, look yourself in the mirror, and see how you fit in Bellevue.”