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Nostalgia for former Williamsport businesses leads man to start t-shirt shop – NorthcentralPA.com

Partly cloudy skies this evening. Increasing clouds with periods of showers late. Low 58F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%..
Partly cloudy skies this evening. Increasing clouds with periods of showers late. Low 58F. Winds SSE at 10 to 15 mph. Chance of rain 70%.
Updated: October 12, 2022 @ 10:23 pm
Former Loyalsock Township resident Ben Kaplan makes logo t-shirts of some of the Williamsport area places from his childhood. 

Former Loyalsock Township resident Ben Kaplan makes logo t-shirts of some of the Williamsport area places from his childhood. 
A trip down memory lane led a former Loyalsock Township man to start a business selling a little bit of local nostalgia.
It started with a series of visits back to the Williamsport area after Ben Kaplan’s father died in March 2021. The death of his father brought back a flood of childhood memories for 51-year-old Kaplan.
“You get to thinking of life and the things that leave an imprint on you,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan recalls spending time as a child shopping on E. Third Street in Loyalsock, also known as the Golden Strip. Kaplan particularly remembers stopping at the now defunct department store Britts in the Loyal Plaza and getting pizza with his family at Venice.
Coming back to the area after living in the Midwest for more than 20 years made Kaplan realize how much has changed since his childhood in the 1980s. Many of those businesses in the Loyal Plaza are long gone, with Kmart being one of the more recent departures. Kaplan, a graphic artist, decided to make t-shirts with the vintage logos of his childhood spots.
“For me, it was nostalgia for childhood, and it was a way to recapture the moments when you were running around the Loyal Plaza as a kid and going to Venice Pizza, Kmart, and the UA Theater,” Kaplan said.
The first shirt Kaplan made was of the vintage logo for the Loyal Plaza. “I made a handful of t-shirts, and they were for family and friends. Then people started posting them on Instagram, and others started asking,” Kaplan said.
Kaplan then expanded to include other logos for Williamsport-area businesses, including the former L.L. Stearns department store on Pine Street. The store was a mainstay in the downtown shopping district for almost 100 years until it closed in 1984.
In June, Kaplan began selling the logo t-shirts on his Etsy shop IHeartBuffets. Kaplan continued to add logos of businesses that conjure fond memories from childhood. One of those is of the former Rialto Theatre on Pine Street.
“I saw Star Wars at the Rialto Theatre in 1979,” Kaplan said.
The Rialto closed in 1980 and reopened four years later as the Door Fellowship church. The building at 470 Pine Street is still recognizable today as a theater. Lettering for the Rialto can still be seen on the façade.
As with most people who grew up in the ’80s in the Williamsport area, Great Skate was another place Kaplan went to have fun with his friends. Kaplan recently created a t-shirt with the logo for Great Skate in Montoursville, which closed sometime in the 90s when it was converted to the Destiny Club.
That people started buying Kaplan’s vintage logo shirts is not a surprise. Nostalgia for childhood seems to resonate strongly for many adults today, particularly for Generation X, Kaplan said. This past summer saw a Rennaissance of sorts for those who grew up in the ’70s and ’80s, as the popular Netflix series “Stranger Things” brought back ’80s music from artists such as Kate Bush and Metallica. The timing of Kaplan’s Etsy shop was perfect. 
Kaplan said he often thinks about childhood and the fun places he went around Williamsport. His father grew up in the Williamsport area as well, and his family has roots here.
“Williamsport is such a beautiful place,” Kaplan said, adding that the mountains are something he misses seeing. “It’s amazing to think of how many generations of our family have looked out on that same mountain range,” Kaplan said.
“When you’re growing up in a place, you want nothing more than to get out of that place,” Kaplan said. “It’s funny how when you’re getting older, those places take on significance.”
Kaplan’s shop on Etsy can be found at: IHeartBuffets – Etsy
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