Married couple and business partners Amy and Chris Beiler will cut the ribbon to Friendly Family Outlet, at 840 Chestnut St., at 11 a.m. Friday, Sept. 15. The discount outlet was formerly owned by Maria Aguero and named Aguero Family Outlet.
The Beilers said they will be cutting the ribbon themselves as at least some local officials were unable to attend due to another ribbon-cutting ceremony scheduled for the same date.
The new owners of the discount outlet will be streaming the ribbon-cutting ceremony to their Facebook page, which already boasts more than 3,000 followers.
The grand opening will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., with face painting for youth starting at 3 p.m. Visitors can enjoy refreshments, shop with a discount, and have the chance to win gift baskets worth hundreds of dollars.
“My wife really went above and beyond with these door prizes,” Chris Beiler said. “I think people are going to be just really thrilled with some of those things and the gift baskets. And I think we’ll have a great time and great turn-out.”
Amy and Chris Beiler were born and raised in Lebanon County and remained in the area as adults, marrying and starting their own family. They have five children who are represented along with themselves in the discount outlet’s new logo.
A large portion of Chris Beiler’s childhood was spent right across the street from the now-Friendly Family Outlet at Boyer Printing, where his grandfather worked for about 50 years. He specifically remembered spending a lot of time at Penn Corner, “getting some snacks.”
“It’s really great to be in that area again, brings back a lot of childhood memories and just a lot of good things,” Chris said. The Beilers mentioned they recently reconnected with a local barber who has been cutting hair for about 40 years.
When asked how the discount outlet’s change of ownership came about, Amy Beiler said, “So, we have been longtime customers of the store, both my husband and myself. He actually would frequent the store more often than I would. They had a wide range/variety of items. And it was always interesting what you could find in the store that you wouldn’t necessarily think you would find. So, every time my husband would go in there he would talk with Maria.”
Amy Beiler and Maria Aguero knew each other from previously working together at Good Samaritan Hospital. Beiler worked in the ICU unit, and Aguero was an EKG tech.
“And then, for the last couple months, he was trying to get in contact about a specific item. And when he finally did, he made a joke with her about, you know, ‘You’re moving out of the country, right?’ … And she said, ‘Well, we are going to be selling.'” Amy Beiler said her husband had always expressed interest in doing something similar to the discount outlet.
She remembered seeing the post about the Aguero Family Outlet looking for a new owner that same day and knew her husband was going to want to buy it. Her prediction was right, and everything was finalized in a matter of a few weeks.
“It was really important to her [Maria] to hand off the business to another family. She wanted to really continue that family feel,” Amy Beiler said. “So, we were the right fit for them.”
“I think Maria could tell that we kind of shared the vision that she carried through and, you know, we were very similar in our thoughts about the community and about charitable givings,” Chris echoed. “And so, she was equally as excited to find us.”
Maria Aguero since introduced the Beilers to customers and taught them some of the business processes that were established during her time as owner.
The Beilers said customers can expect a similar shopping experience at the discount outlet, with no major changes having been made to the building since the change of ownership. They wanted to preserve “the heart” of the business with its family-friendly atmosphere and product line while making some improvements where they saw fit.
“We’re a discount retailer with the goal of providing the best prices on a varied product line, which includes home goods, electronics, home decor, basic necessities such as paper products. We have toilet paper and paper towels and diapers. And we’re trying to provide for just necessities for families at reasonable pricing,” Chris said. “We like to say that we have low, friendly pricing, just like our name: Friendly Family Outlet.”
The discount outlet occupies two spaces within the building and technically has three addresses — 840 Chestnut St. as well as 103 and 106 S. 9th Street. However, 840 Chestnut St. is the main address they use, and it is easily recognizable to customers from being posted on the door they enter.
There is a free parking lot about half a block north of the outlet, as well as metered street parking in the immediate vicinity. In front of the outlet is a loading zone where customers can briefly park to load items into their vehicles.
The Beilers expressed their excitement to build relationships with their customers and community members generally moving forward.
“There is a lot going on downtown as far as renovations. And I think the end result is going to be really beautiful. And I hope that it brings a lot of people to our town,” Amy said. “And with that, we want to be part of that improving of the city and being that local business that everybody knows about and part of that downtown community as it continues to beautify.”
“We found a lot of support in the business community already with the local business owners and customers,” Chris added. “We’re just really looking forward to meeting many, many more of them at our grand opening.”
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