To mangle an old expression, you can take the man out of the small town, but you can’t take the small town out of the man.
Harry Althouse, owner of , left Lancaster County, where he was born and raised, for Ardmore in 1990, but he has carried the lessons of his rural upbringing with him.
“Everybody knew everybody,” Althouse said of Adamstown, “I was just brought up to help your neighbor and try to do the right thing. Help your community. That’s just the way I was brought up. And I’m glad I was.”
Althouse, who drove the local fire truck and served in the Navy on and off between 1969 and 1988, brought that ethos with him when he came to Ardmore. On the Main Line, he has similarly immersed himself in the community.
“I’m here in my store everyday at 23 E Lancaster Avenue in Ardmore and I live three blocks away on Wynnewood Avenue,” he shrugged. “I work, shop, and play in Ardmore.”
In Althouse’s case, there is a particular emphasis on the first of that trio.
His civic involvement is deep and broad: he’s a current member and former vice president of the Ardmore Business Association, a lifetime member of VFW, and a participant in the .
“If I can help somebody succeed, it doesn’t take a lot for me.”—Harry Althouse
Althouse says his involvement in the community is even greater than these positions imply.
“You don’t need a title to do things for the community and make a difference,” he said. “I’m better as a freelancer, you could say.”
As a freelancer, he’s taken on a couple particularly meaningful assignments: When a friend, the former owner of Ardmore Paperback Books Danny Salzburg, passed away a couple years ago, Althouse raised funds to have a park bench erected in his name.
“He was the kind of guy who was a good guy, but who could have gotten forgotten about,” Althouse explained.
He’s also a mentor of sorts to local business owners.
When , a local restaurant, changed hands, Althouse introduced the new ownership to the local business association, steered customers their way, and arranged for them to enter, despite the lapsed deadline, the “” event—a popular annual fundraiser whose central aspect is a sampling of local menus.
“The more vibrant this business community is, the better it is for everybody,” Althouse said. “If I can help somebody succeed, it doesn’t take a lot for me. I believe in doing things for other people.”
But Althouse says his greatest contribution to the community comes to those who are in greatest need. A recovering alcoholic, Althouse has been sober for 18 years, and prides himself in shepherding others to recovery.
“I can tell when people have a problem and they don’t even know it yet. I try to plant seeds in people. That’s probably the most rewarding thing that I do.”
His efforts haven’t gone unnoticed.
“Harry’s probably the unofficial mayor of Ardmore,” said David Sedley, a regular customer at Harry’s.
“I’m just a neighbor helping a neighbor.”