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Trump’s visit to working-class Pa. town evokes fond memories, businesses say: ‘More money in our pockets’

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Al Anderson owns the Leather Corner Post. 

The bar and grill on the edge of Schnecksville has its roots as a former carriage stop in the 1850s. The landmark, so dubbed from a time before street names when the crossroads at which it sits was marked only by a piece of rawhide nailed to a stake, has seen a lot of change in 170 years.

And for Anderson, the changes have been particularly profound over the past decade as he struggles to keep up with rising costs to keep his business going.

“Our costs are through the roof just to stay in business. From A-to-Z we didn’t have this four years ago,” Anderson said. “Of course, Bidenomics is nothing but printing money and creating inflation.”

“So it’s just false. It’s bound to break, I just don’t know when they’re going to break it.”

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Anderson’s sentiments were echoed by other local business owners who expressed excitement before former President Trump‘s visit to the community and presidential campaign rally at Schnecksville firehall’s fairground last Saturday. They seemed to long for the past years of the Trump administration and appear to be rooting for his victory in November.

“The economy over the last four years, especially from a customer’s standpoint – we have to raise prices all the time. They were just complaining yesterday, too, that diesel fuel is up; everything’s up… We have to just keep raising beer prices and food prices, it’s just never ending,” Lauren Anderson, Al’s daughter and manager of Leather Corner Post, told Fox News Digital.

“I think it’s exciting,” Al Anderson said of Trump’s visit. “Donald Trump coming right next door to us is pretty awesome,” Lauren added.

“I think in the Trump years, we all had more money in our pockets, so we could buy things at a lower cost… you could do more things with less money,” Al added. “[Biden-era] economics don’t make sense. Go to the grocery store; it’s unreal.”

Closer to the center of town, Schnecksville native Ed Frack recently opened SuperSets Gym in what was once his childhood IGA grocery store. Frack opened his first gym in Hanover Township, near ABE International Airport, just before Trump left office.

“I caught the tail end of it when I opened my first SuperSets,” he said of Trump’s first term. “I would categorize it as [a time of] growth… Things were just a little easier for businessowners.”

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“The younger generation is noticeably spending more money than my generation ever did.”

“At the same time, while they’re spending more money, operation costs have doubled, tripled, and increased drastically over the last three years,” added Frack, who previously battled to keep his first location open during then-Pennsylvania Democratic Gov. Tom Wolf’s pandemic lockdowns.

Frack said he was shocked to hear Trump would be visiting the local firehouse over the weekend. “I thought it was pretty awesome and cool for [him] to come by,” he said.

As for the economic outlook for SuperSets, Frack said it will be difficult, but that he has made “unorthodox changes” to his business model to adapt to current conditions.

He described the last four years as a “roller coaster,” though added he believes the greater Lehigh Valley area retains a “strong” economic undercurrent. Inflation and cost-of-living increases, he said, have negatively affected the region, but not to the extent of other parts of the country. Frack added Schnecksville and the greater Allentown area remain a good place overall to start a business.

Local resident Zane Gray’s father used to own a flooring business in the area, he told Fox News Digital.

Gray said the coronavirus pandemic coupled with the Biden administration’s economic policies sent supply prices “through the roof,” which led to the business’ demise.

“Sheets of plywood were $94 per sheet and what homeowner could afford that?” Gray said. “That really burnt some holes in our pockets and [we] ended up having to close-up shop, it’s a shame.”

Gray said he had been looking forward to Trump coming to town.

“I’m just excited. I’m so happy that he’s coming to our little slice of heaven, and he gets to see the true people around here that support him, not these people on Facebook and Instagram,” he quipped.

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“It’s nice to see some actual support and him coming out to see us. To see that he actually cares about us Pennsylvania locals. As long as he sticks true to his word and I know he will… prices should go down; jobs should be open up. I’ll actually be able to afford things again, so I’m looking forward to him being in office.”

About 25 minutes below Schnecksville, Doug Letterman has operated Letterman’s Diner in Kutztown since 1998. Letterman hails originally from Mount Carmel, the heart of the Anthracite coal region where blue-collar workers delivered Trump 2016 wins in counties that had long been reliably Democratic. 

Letterman’s customer base down toward the other end of Route 61 is not dissimilar from there, and they overwhelmingly have good things to say about the former president, he said.

Letterman, like Frack, recalls weathering the Pennsylvania lockdowns, which saw him receive a stack of citations amid pushback from Harrisburg for trying to keep his 23-seat, streetcar-style diner, known for its heaping omelettes and Pennsylvania Dutch flair, open, he said.

While former President Bill Clinton visited his borough during his re-election campaign, Letterman said it was good to see Trump come pretty close this time around. He looks back fondly on Trump’s time in the Oval Office.

“Biden is not doing a great job. When Trump was in, Trump was doing such a great job,” Letterman said. “The economy was doing great. Food costs were down… the economy was so much better than it is now.”

He predicted, however, that Trump will only become more popular in the key areas of the Keystone State such as his own:

“[His popularity] is increasing, you can tell by my customer base that it’s increasing,” Letterman said.

Pennsylvania State Sen. Jarrett Coleman, a Schnecksville-area Republican who previously served on the Parkland School Board, told Fox News Digital he hears from constituents often about the lack of optimism they have during the Biden years compared to the previous four.

“President Biden was recently in Lehigh County touting Bidenomics — the funny thing about Bidenomics is if it was working the president wouldn’t have to travel around the country convincing people it’s working,” Coleman said.

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The Lehigh Valley and Schnecksville area as a whole has undergone a long-term economic shift itself, as the “iron and coke; chromium steel” that Billy Joel sang about in 1981’s “Allentown” no longer emanates from the site of Bethlehem Steel.

A casino now sits amid the rusting steelstacks, and communities like Schnecksville – which had nary a traffic light in the 1980s – see an influx of warehouses and new residential subdivisions that depict a transition within the once-agrarian region. 

Coleman told Fox News Digital that the diverse, economically evolving environment, however, presents politicians with a representation of many parts of the electorate at once:

“It’s clear by both presidential candidates coming to Lehigh County that they understand the importance of the Lehigh Valley and the importance its voters make,” added Coleman. “And how the Lehigh Valley is like a representative spread of the Commonwealth as a whole.”

Coleman also suggested Trump has an “affinity” for Pennsylvania for many reasons, including, as he noted, sons Donald Jr. and Eric attended private school in nearby Pottstown.

“I believe Pennsylvania has a special place in his heart,” he said.

Fox News Digital reached out for a comment on Trump’s visit from local U.S. Rep. Susan Wild, D-Pa., but did not receive a response.

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