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                Ashley Seier, Blue Mountain Resort's marketing manager, stands in the resort's newly opened True Blue Mountain Sports shop in the Valley Lodge.
                Ashley Seier, Blue Mountain Resort's marketing manager, stands in the resort's newly opened True Blue Mountain Sports shop in the Valley Lodge. (Ryan Kneller/The Morning Call)

                Winter has officially arrived, and with it comes the usual mix of seasonal merriment and misery.

                Whether you’re hitting the slopes, shoveling snow or scoring last minute Christmas gifts, one of the area’s top ski resorts is making sure you’ve got the right gear for outdoor activities.

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                Blue Mountain Ski Area, which opened as Little Gap Ski Area in 1977, on Saturday and Sunday will hold a grand opening of its True Blue Mountain Sports shop, carrying hard and soft goods such as skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, helmets, jackets, snow pants, goggles, gloves and hats.

                Popular brands such as Head and Nordica skis, Arbor and Burton snowboards and The North Face apparel are carried, along with Blue Mountain novelties and gifts such as keychains, mugs, picture frames and stuffed animals.

                The 3,600-square-foot store — part of a revamp of the lodge at the base of the resort that includes an expanded dining and lounge area — also features a workshop where customers can have their equipment tuned and repaired.

                “What’s really great is that the merchandise will change in the warmer months to include camping and mountain biking gear,” said Ashley Seier, Blue Mountain’s marketing manager. “We’ll have bikes, tents, sleeping bags, flashlights and so on.”

                Blue Mountain Resort will host a grand opening of its True Blue Mountain Sports shop, Saturday and Sunday. The shop carries a wide array of skis, snowboards and related accessories.
                Blue Mountain Resort will host a grand opening of its True Blue Mountain Sports shop, Saturday and Sunday. The shop carries a wide array of skis, snowboards and related accessories. (Ryan Kneller/The Morning Call)

                The resort, which features 40 ski trails, 27 mountain biking trails, three disc golf courses, laser tag, horseback riding and archery, next year is expanding to nearly 100 campsites — 25 “glamping” sites featuring canvas tents on platforms with bunk beds and solar showers, and more than 50 more primitive sites with fire rings and picnic tables, Seier said.

                True Blue Mountain Sports shop, open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. weekends and holidays, this weekend is hosting a grand opening sale, where customers can buy any jacket, helmet, pants or goggles and get another one of those items (of equal or lesser value) half off. Info: skibluemt.com.

                Blue Mountain Resort in Lower Towamensing Township will hold a grand opening of its new True Blue Mountain Sports shop on Dec. 21 and 22. The new store, part of a larger revamp of the resort's Valley Lodge, carries hard and soft goods, including skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, jackets, snow pants, goggles and gloves. It also features a tuning area where customers can have their equipment tuned. In the warmer months, the store will carry biking and camping equipment, parts and accessories.
                Blue Mountain Resort in Lower Towamensing Township will hold a grand opening of its new True Blue Mountain Sports shop on Dec. 21 and 22. The new store, part of a larger revamp of the resort's Valley Lodge, carries hard and soft goods, including skis, snowboards, boots, bindings, jackets, snow pants, goggles and gloves. It also features a tuning area where customers can have their equipment tuned. In the warmer months, the store will carry biking and camping equipment, parts and accessories. (RYAN KNELLER / The Morning Call)

                Whitehall news

                About 15 miles south of Blue Mountain, a handful of businesses recently opened in Whitehall Township.

                First, for people in search of a new pair of kicks, footwear company Skechers last month opened an 8,467-square-foot store in Whitehall Square at 2180 MacArthur Road, next to the new J&C Crab Juicy Seafood restaurant.

                Footwear company Skechers last month opened an 8,467-square-foot store in the Whitehall Square at 2180 MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township.
                Footwear company Skechers last month opened an 8,467-square-foot store in the Whitehall Square at 2180 MacArthur Road in Whitehall Township. (Ryan Kneller/The Morning Call)

                Based in Manhattan Beach, California, Skechers designs, develops and markets a range of lifestyle footwear for men, women and children, as well as performance footwear for men and women.

                The company’s products are available in more than 170 countries and territories via department and specialty stores, more than 3,060 Skechers- and third party-owned retail stores and the company’s websites. Info: skechers.com.

                Second, the Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 4 hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony of First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union’s newest location at 2752 MacArthur Road. The site was previously home to a McDonald’s restaurant.

                The Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 4 hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony of First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union’s newest location at 2752 MacArthur Road.
                The Whitehall Area Chamber of Commerce on Dec. 4 hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony of First Commonwealth Federal Credit Union’s newest location at 2752 MacArthur Road. (Ryan Kneller/The Morning Call)

                The Lehigh Valley credit union, serving more than 62,000 members and 1,300 companies, was founded in 1959 and has nine financial centers in Berks, Carbon, Lehigh and Northampton counties. Info: firstcomcu.org.

                Lastly, updates on two dining options coming to Lehigh Valley Mall:

                Restaurant and entertainment hub Dave & Buster’s along with frozen dessert and ice cream chain Haagen-Dazs are both expected to open by April, according to the mall’s website.

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                Dave & Buster’s, which is expected to bring more than 200 jobs to the area, will occupy a newly constructed 30,000-square-foot building on the outparcel along MacArthur Road that formerly hosted Friendly’s and Wendy’s restaurants and office tenants.

                Restaurant and entertainment chain Dave & Buster's is expected to open in the spring at the Lehigh Valley Mall.
                Restaurant and entertainment chain Dave & Buster's is expected to open in the spring at the Lehigh Valley Mall. (Ryan Kneller/The Morning Call)

                The chain allows guests to play arcade games, watch sports and order food and drinks.

                Haagen-Dazs, offering sundaes, milkshakes, smoothies and more, will be at the mall’s main entrance, on the lower level near Barnes & Noble.

                Odds and ends

                Just in time for holiday parties, a Lehigh Valley distillery has released its first batch of bottled spirits.

                Christmas City Spirits, a craft distillery focusing on Colonial-inspired distillations, over the last few weeks unveiled its select-grain vodka, sweet corn whiskey, barley whiskey (two styles) and George Washington-inspired “cherry bounce” at the Tavern at the Sun Inn in historic Bethlehem.

                Customers can enjoy tastings of spirits, $4 for one, $7 for two or $10 for three, at the bar or any dining table, co-owner Brett Biggs said.

                Christmas City Spirits, a craft distillery focusing on colonial-inspired distillations, over the past few weeks unveiled its select-grain vodka, sweet corn whiskey, barley whiskey (two styles) and the George Washington-inspired “cherry bounce” at the Tavern at the Sun Inn in historic Bethlehem.
                Christmas City Spirits, a craft distillery focusing on colonial-inspired distillations, over the past few weeks unveiled its select-grain vodka, sweet corn whiskey, barley whiskey (two styles) and the George Washington-inspired “cherry bounce” at the Tavern at the Sun Inn in historic Bethlehem. (Ryan Kneller/The Morning Call)

                They also can order 375-milliliter bottles, $22.95-$27.95, and signature cocktails, including a Fiddler’s Muse, made with Irish-style barley whiskey, lemon and lime juices, honey and club soda.

                Crops such as oats, sweet corn and wheat from North Whitehall Township’s Suyundalla Farms are used in the production of spirits, which soon will include a gin and rum.

                “What really sets us apart from other distilleries is that we are trying to put the flavors of the field into the bottles,” Biggs said.

                Christmas City Spirits’ products are made in small batches at a distillery, led by head distiller Michael Dombrosky, in Hanover Township, Northampton County. There are no plans to offer public access to the distillery or provide tastings there, Biggs said. Info: suninnbethlehem.org/christmas-city-spirits.

                For individuals looking to stay in shape in the new year, my colleague Anthony Salamone reports that running enthusiasts will soon have a new destination for sneakers and related apparel in Lehigh County.

                Chris Schmidt, who managed the Emmaus Run Inn, plans to open Keystone Running Store beginning Jan. 2 with partner Bill Ehritz. Schmidt said the 11 employees at Emmaus Run Inn, including six of his family members, are moving to Keystone, which is at 1402 Mill Creek Road in Lower Macungie Township — in a strip mall across from Walmart.

                Schmidt, who has worked in shoe and fitness-gear retail since 1988, said it was time to branch out on his own.

                The Emmaus Run Inn, 322 Main St., remains open, according to Bob Schwelm, co-owner of Bryn Mawr Running Co., the Philadelphia-area business that owns the store. He and Schmidt also formerly operated the Nazareth Run Inn, which closed in 2016 after less than two years of business.

                For more information about Keystone, call 484-387-1258 or go to keystonerunningstore.com.

                Closing notes

                The future of two Lehigh Valley coffee shops is uncertain heading into the new year.

                In downtown Allentown, the 3?-year-old Cafe Vida at 19 N. Sixth St. (on the ground floor of the Americus Hotel) plans to suspend operations Dec. 31 ahead of operator Life Church’s plans to reengineer the cafe in a new location.

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                “We are currently in the process of zeroing in on a new spot for 2020, but haven’t nailed it down as of yet," said Lauren Nicholas, Life Church’s director of marketing.

                In downtown Bethlehem, the 15-year-old Wise Bean Coffee & Espresso Bar at 634 N. New St. is temporarily closed following an ownership change, according to a sign in the window. The business is expected to reopen.

                The 3?-year-old Cafe Vida at 19 N. Sixth St. in downtown Allentown plans to suspend operations Dec. 31 ahead of operator Life Church’s plans to reengineer the cafe in a new location.
                The 3?-year-old Cafe Vida at 19 N. Sixth St. in downtown Allentown plans to suspend operations Dec. 31 ahead of operator Life Church’s plans to reengineer the cafe in a new location. (EMILY PAINE / THE MORNING CALL)

                “Thank you for your years of patronage,” The Wise Bean’s sign reads. “Please look for re-opening soon.”

                It is unclear if the Bethlehem coffee shop’s new owners will retain the menu and hours. A phone message left Wednesday seeking details on the upcoming changes was not returned.

                I’ll finish with a fast-food chain whose presence is diminishing in the area.

                Long John Silver’s, the nation’s largest quick-service seafood chain with nearly 1,000 franchised restaurants nationwide, closed this month at 2409 Nazareth Road in Palmer Township, according to signs in the window.

                The closure of the restaurant, in the 25th Street Shopping Center, follows the closure of the chain’s Bethlehem restaurant on Union Boulevard a few months ago.

                Remaining area locations can be found at 2571 Easton Ave. in Bethlehem and 7720 Main St. in Fogelsville.

                Retail Watch, appearing every weekend, keeps track of retail and restaurant news in the Lehigh Valley. Contact Ryan Kneller at 610-820-6597 or retailwatch@mcall.com.

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