PHOENIXVILLE - Local graphic artist Sandra Degenhardt has always wanted to have her own claim to fame in Phoenixville.

With the recent unveiling of an updated, "retro" brochure of the downtown business district, Degenhardt certainly has achieved that.

Sponsored by the Phoenixville Area Business Association (PABA), the brochure features various photos of Bridge Street businesses and intricacies that are aimed to bring in more visitors to the Phoenixville area, said Degenhardt.

The idea for the brochure came about while Degenhardt was shopping in Ellie's Choice.

"I was talking with Ellie (Acampora) and she told me that PABA was re-forming," said Degenhardt. "She said one of the first things she wanted to establish was to create a brochure that would focus on the downtown business district.

"While attending my first PABA meeting in January, the topic of the brochure was brought up, and I told Ellie that I'd be willing to help with it. Once she provided me with a list of businesses and a particular theme, I began to work on it."

Prior to taking photographs of the downtown business district, Degenhardt said she did some research with several colleagues.

"I spoke to several people about their opinion of Phoenixville," said Degenhardt. "Some people didn't know much about Phoenixville, while a few said that the area was becoming 'retro.' With that, I decided to design the type face on the front of the brochure to resemble the neon lighting from the Colonial Theatre."

As soon as springtime arrived, Degenhardt said she began taking plenty of pictures so she'd have a huge selection to choose from.

With photographs taken and verbage supplied by Acampora and Ken Beard, PABA vice president, Degenhardt began designing the brochure and the final product hit the streets in the beginning of this month. The printing was done by Bentley Graphic Communications, Pottstown.

"This is my little way of helping the community," she said. "Everyone should find a way to do that, and this is my contribution. It's been very rewarding.

"By doing this project, I've learned quite a bit about Phoenixville, the buildings, the businesses. Taking photos of everything has given me a new appreciation for Phoenixville, and I'm proud to live here."

The brochures are displayed in most of the downtown businesses and are in the Chester County Conference & Visitor Bureau in West Chester.

Degenhardt said she's been "astounded" by the response she's received so far from the brochure.

"I was on vacation recently when I received a phone call on my cell phone," she said. "It was from a resident, who wanted to call me to tell me how impressed she was with the brochure."

A 30-year veteran in graphic arts and design work, Degenhardt began her own consulting service close to three years ago from her home along the 100 block of Carson Street.

"I always had a plan that I wanted to do, which was to do freelance work," she said. "I bought a two-story house, which the second floor is my studio workshop. It has enough space for me to work on my designs. After spending most of my career traveling back and forth to Philadelphia, the change in working from home has been wonderful. It's enabled me to get out and experience Phoenixville that I never had the opportunity to do so in the past. I love what I do and it's what keeps me going."

Sandra Degenhardt Graphic Arts Consulting Service is located at 136 Carson Street, Phoenixville. For more information, contact Degenhardt at 610-933-1951.

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