Downtown Altoona offers variety of small businesses

Cassidy Klock, Editor in Chief

Altoona, Pennsylvania was founded in 1849. Since then, the city has grown with families, homes and businesses. Though the entirety of Altoona is home to historical sites such as the Railroader’s Museum and the Curve, downtown Altoona has become a place where some will begin their very own small business. 

Wildfire Boutique 

Location: 1302 11th Avenue, Altoona, PA 16601
Phone: (814) 935-7007
Sunday: Closed
Monday: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Tuesday – Friday: 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
(Cassidy Klock)

Emily McCarthy is the founder and owner of the eco-friendly boutique: Wildfire. Wildfire is known for its no plastic, organic and vegan products. 

“We sell almost everything here. We sell hair, skin care, dental care, kitchen cleaning supplies and clothes. You name it, we have it,” McCarthy said. 

McCarthy is a 23 year old female who spends her free time attempting to better her business. 

“I actually did not attend college for business or even in general. I was just a 19 year old girl who had a dream, and I took that dream and planned out a way to make it a reality. I am so proud of myself for taking nothing and turning it into something,” McCarthy said.

Though Wildfire is now located in downtown Altoona, that was not always the case. Wildfire was relocated in May of 2021.

“When I first opened in Oct. of 2019, I was located in Martinsburg for a year and a half before I relocated. I was eager for business to pick up, and the move has seemed to really help with that,”  McCarthy said. 

McCarthy, being a small business owner herself, makes it a goal for herself to purchase her products from companies as local as she can get them. 

“While I am shopping for products, I start by seeing if I can find anyone in Blair County. If I can’t, I look to see if I can find anyone who sells what I am looking for in Pennsylvania. If I am still unlucky, I will settle for anything from the United States. I usually never have to go further than this step,” McCarthy said.   

McCarthy is passionate about the environment and about keeping it clean. She attempts to do her part of saving the environment through her business. 

“I honestly opened my business because I felt there was a lack of availability of sustainable products in the area. Without access to eco-friendly products, obviously, nobody can purchase them. I believe that if these sorts of products were more accessible to the public, we would not be in the environmental crisis we are today,” McCarthy said. 

Owner of Wildfire Boutique: Emily McCarthy, 23 (Cassidy Klock)

The Clay Cup

Location: 1304 11th Avenue, Altoona, Pennsylvania 16601
Phone: (814) 201-2608
Monday-Friday: 6:30 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 7 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Sunday: Closed
(Cassidy Klock)

The Clay Cup is a coffee house located in downtown Altoona. Owned by Sarah Vogel, the coffee house is not only known for its coffee and coffee brand, Westfall, but also for the pottery studio located in the far end of the cafe. 

“What makes us unique to other coffee houses is, obviously, the pottery studio in our shop. I am a very creative person, so I thought to myself  ‘Why not combine my two favorite things: art and coffee’,” S. Vogel said.

The Clay Cup was initially opened in March of 2017, and has stayed in the same location since.

“I wanted to create a space for Altoona to have community, and a space for families to gather and have a good time. I also wanted to be part of the revitalization of downtown Altoona,” S. Vogel said. 


Eight out of 9 surveyed customers agree with S. Vogel in the sense that the pottery is what makes the coffee house unique compared to others.  


Pottery Manager: Theresa Vogel, 59 (Cassidy Klock)

Theresa Vogel is the Pottery Manager for the shop. Each day, T. Vogel will get an average of seven to 10 groups of painters coming into the shop.

There are multiple ways that an individual can paint with The Clay Cup 

“If you would like to come into paint, make sure that you call first to make a reservation. However, we do ‘Take and Paint’ where you can purchase a piece, and we will provide you with the glazes and brushes for you to paint outside of the coffee house. You will be able to have the glazes out for a week to paint your piece,” T. Vogel said. 


The Clay Cup’s Iced caramel coffee
Rating: 8/10 (Cassidy Klock)
The Clay Cup’s Turkey and Gouda sandwich
Rating: 9.5/10 (Cassidy Klock)









Location: 1402 1/2 11th Ave, Altoona, PA 16602 Phone: (814) 201-2342 Hours:
Sunday – Monday: Closed Tuesday – Saturday: 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. (Cassidy Klock)

Joos is a smoothie shop in the downtown area. The shop is best known for their smoothies, smoothie bowls and their plant based bakery items. Joos is owned by Jennifer Hrivnak, and it was opened in April of 2017. 

“I had a very stressful year back in 2015: I was working in the sales business, and I hated my job. I was also struggling with some serious health issues and was looking for a way to treat it which led me to the business I own today,” Hrivnak said. “I felt our community really needed a location with healthy, vegan options that still taste delicious.”

Though Hrivnak is the owner of the company, she does not come up with all the flavors of smoothies by herself.

“I always try to encourage my employees to try to develop new things. I had an employee who’s name was Madelyn a few years back, and when she started working here, she insisted that we needed to start selling smoothie bowls. She created our ‘Madelyn’s Berry Bowl’ flavor which is now our best selling product,” Hrivnak said. 

Along with “Madelyn’s Berry Bowl”, the restaurant has other popular menu items among customers including the Samoa cookie, chickpea peanut butter brownie and the strawberry banana smoothie. 

“At first I refused to put the strawberry banana smoothie on the menu. I felt it was just too basic, and people could make it easily at home so I felt it wouldn’t sell well; however, my team and I worked together to find a secret ingredient to make ours taste extraordinary. Now I am proud to say it is one of our best sellers,” Hrivnak said.

Joos’ Play Date smoothie
Rating: 9.5/10 (Cassidy Klock)
Joos’ Samoa cookie and peanut butter brownie
Samoa rating: 8.5/10
Brownie rating: 10/10
(Cassidy Klock)