Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we visit with Megan Coleman whose passion is caring for pets at The Red Woof Inn near McArthur.
Everyone knows that pets are like family. That’s why it’s so hard to leave them behind when we have to travel or be away from home for a while. For pet parents in Vinton County, there’s a family owned option for boarding dogs and cats for short term and long terms stays. The Red Woof Inn has been owned by Megan and Josh Coleman since last summer.
The lifelong animal lovers are Vinton County natives who had moved away for work. They jumped at the opportunity to come home when they learned that this business was available. “I’ve had a lifelong passion for animals, especially dogs,” Megan explained. “We had talked about starting a kennel in the Columbus area but when this came available, it was just too perfect to pass up.”
The climate controlled facility on Old Dixon Road provides each pet with a cot for their comfort and plenty of love. Everyone is walked and played with at least four times a day. “I absolutely love getting to know them and playing with them, helping them understand their owner will come back. I love getting to know their personalities and the little things that make them unique,” she said while describing some of the special situations that she’s faced so far. One of those included a former shelter dog that clearly was struggling when dropped off in this strange place. “I took extra time. He wouldn’t eat or drink and I wanted him to know that he was safe and that it’s ok. His owner would come back.”
She does have frequent flyers as well as some who come just when their owner is traveling. She is always on the lookout for new customers.
Pet parents must provide their animal’s food, treats and shot records. Families can be kept in a kennel together to make their stay more enjoyable. She sends daily pictures and reports to the owners to maintain communication and assure the owners that all is well with their pet family.
They do have a lot of repeat customers and she indicated that word-of-mouth has been their best form of advertising. “When someone sees that you care for their dog like you would your own family pet, they feel better trusting you and are more likely to recommend you to someone else.”
Megan said that she knows how important it is to trust the people who look after your pets. She and Josh are pet parents too. They have three dogs and two cats that she says are “spoiled rotten.”
“I just love animals and want them to be safe and well cared for and to know they’re loved. I have found my calling.”
What does she love best about this job? She said it’s hard to say. “I love to see how excited they are when their owner comes home…. but there’s no better feeling than winning the love of a shy dog, a timid dog. That’s the biggest accomplishment, the best feeling,” Megan said with a smile.
Want to know more about the Red Woof Inn or schedule your pet for a stay? Follow them on Facebook or call Megan at 740.649.8640.
Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we learn about a new restaurant in Bremen and the journey the owners had to take to get there.
Ever wonder what goes into opening a small business for the first time? The folks at Rushcreek Pub & Grub have a tale for you!
“I wish I still had that text!” Tara Bobo exclaimed. It was late and Tara was settling in for the night. “Basically I got this text as I’m lying in bed that says something like ‘I want to own a bar/restaurant.’ That’s all it said. It was from my brother Chad.”
With that one statement grew an idea and Tara and her brother Chad Ashbaugh began the journey of opening a family owned business. This was not a lifelong dream for either of them. It was simply a desire to serve the people of their community with a place to gather, have a good meal and enjoy great times.
After that initial text, the siblings engaged in many conversations where they hashed out some basic wants and needs, allowing room for this crazy idea to take form. It had to be family friendly but also serve as a gathering spot for friends and entertainment. A pub and grub, if you will.
Tara and Chad began researching locations and eventually found the perfect spot: a well-known brick building at the busiest intersection in Bremen. It’s known in the area as a former car lot, an old restaurant and home of the Fraternal Order of Eagles. It was the ideal spot.
The only problem? They didn’t know who owned the property or if it would be for sale. As it turns out, the struggle to find answers would be a common theme throughout their journey. As first time business owners, the pair would go on to learn everything about running a restaurant from the ground up.
After connecting with the property owner, their offer was quickly accepted and the wild idea of this endeavor had suddenly become a reality.
Bremen had been a dry town since just after Prohibition was repealed in 1933. That is, no alcohol was sold or allowed inside of businesses within the village until a vote of the residents changed that in 2018. While business are now permitted to serve alcohol, the new law did not mean that every business is inherently able to do so, according to Tara.
She credited finding the right people who could help them navigate acquiring a liquor license. It was a stranger in local government who helped. “I just happened to talk to the right person on the right day – I wish I had her name – at the Board of Elections and she really knew her stuff. She was able to help us out and guide us more than she knows and we were able to get things moving.”
Tara’s daughter Brooke took the lead and got the petition signatures needed to have the issue on the ballot. It passed.
Meanwhile, Chad had begun working on the physical space. He gutted the building, starting from scratch so they could give their ideas room to grow. Tara said that it was intimidating, to say the least. “Chad redid it all on the weekends and I stayed away,” she recalled. She was busy with her career in health care, hesitant to take the plunge completely into the world of entrepreneurship. “I was initially resistant to open. I lacked the confidence in knowing what I was doing as a new business owner, and I just wasn’t yet all-in.”
That’s when another of those “right people” entered the scene and the apprehension began to subside. Local business owner Scott Pletcher connected with Tara and Chad. He used his experience with small business operations and the restaurant industry to guide them through challenging decisions regarding space, logistics and equipment. “He was great. He really knew his way around. Again, he was just the right person for us and a huge help in all of this!”
With the remodel nearing completion, Tara left her healthcare position so she could devote her attention to this crazy adventure they now call Rushcreek Pub & Grub.
“We hired 29 people right away. Shout out to Samantha and Kia, who’ve worked in the industry a long time and helped us with the front of the house operations,” Tara said.
While it was still trial by fire, a friends and family night gave them some needed experience before the big opening. Taking an eyes-wide-open approach, they learned quickly what worked and what needed improvement. They brought in someone to consult on the kitchen work flow and were still making changes shortly after they opened.
And just like that, it all came together and the family business has been moving full steam ahead ever since.
“It’s a true family affair – we’ve had the whole family here helping at different times. Nieces and nephews, inlaws, sister, kids, they’ve all helped along the way in every manner,” she said.
The family Christmas was even held at the restaurant. “We were still new and trying to get this business going so we just held Christmas here. Mom even decorated the tree we had in here,” Tara recalled fondly. “And then we opened up for business that evening!”
Rushcreek Pub & Grub features beautiful rustic industrial style décor that complements the historic brick building. Sit-down and high-top tables join a full bar while a private party room and a full patio are available for outdoor dining and socializing. Combined with a menu of creative appetizers, soups, salads, and sandwiches, it’s truly fit for families and the community.
As they fine-tune operations and grow, they are developing a following for their specials and events as well. They host musicians on the weekends and have held trivia and bingo nights. Some bike nights are planned and Wicked Wing Wednesdays were recently introduced. The back room can be separated into a private space and is able to be used as such. It can also be rented for private events.
“Chad could have bought a bar or restaurant anywhere. There were opportunities. But they weren’t here. We’re community oriented. We want to be here serving our people, our community,” Tara stated, emphasizing the importance of being in this exact location not out of necessity, but desire. “We’re here because we want to be here.”
We like to shine a spotlight on the unique businesses and hardworking nonprofit organizations doing good things in our communities. We do this every month and hope you enjoy reading them as much as we enjoy bringing them to you.
When the Ashville Food Pantry announced last year their plan to build a new facility, they expected the fundraising process to last three to five years. Little did they know what was to come. Not only did they raise the funds quickly, they were under roof and serving the community just in time for Thanksgiving.
How did they do it so quickly?
With the support of their community and contributions from the most unexpected sources.
That support came via everything from dollars and dimes to a large anonymous contribution to in-kind donations. While the cost of the project was estimated to come in around $250,000, the showing of respect and support for their mission in the community was priceless.
Director Kris Smith and Board members Ron Delucia and Ed White simply shook their heads when asked how they raised all that money so quickly. “We never dreamed that the fundraising would go so easily. We expected it to take years, not months,” Kris said. “It started with a talk at the Civic Club where I’m a member. I asked the club to donate $7,500 and they donated $10,000. I was floored but it gave me the confidence to start asking more. So now I’m the town beggar,” she exclaimed.
They said that many community members gave their stimulus checks while others gave what they could spare which maybe was just a few dollars.
Those donations came in fast and furious including many in the form of labor and supplies. Ed took the lead on overseeing the construction and said he was amazed at how it all came together. “It was kind of a shock when things just started rolling. We have a great team and everyone does their part to help.”
Columbia Gas donated the gas tap while other donors provided the water and sewer taps and one kind individual gave $50,000 anonymously. The excavation, concrete floor, paving and downspouts were all donated allowing the project to come in under budget and with a little cash to spare.
Ed was very thoughtful about some of the decisions they made when it came to materials and functional design. He is eager to point out the small details that make the place run smoothly and the things they were able to do to make the utility bills less costly. “The space just makes a lot more sense and we have plenty of space for storage but it’s more energy efficient too.”
In fact, he said the new facility has been a game changer for the volunteer board and staff and for how they are able to serve their clients.
The food pantry was started in 1982 by Katie Dum and Inga and Pastor David Koch of the First English Lutheran Church. Representatives of local churches make up an executive board that oversees the operation of the food pantry which was previously located in a home that is owned by the church. That house was not equipped for the food pantry’s growing needs as it lacked the room to store, sort and bag the massive amounts of supplies needed each month.
Size limitations caused donation day to take place outside even in the cold of winter. There was no easy way to move the client bags out of the house other than one bag at a time.
Today, a roll up door makes it easy to bring in large shipments of donated items for sorting. Tall metal carts glide easily over the concrete floor and reinforced heavy duty shelving provides ample space for storage. The building is handicap accessible and equipped with a bathroom. Cold storage units were purchased with grants from South Central Power giving the food pantry the new luxury of on-site freezer and refrigerator space.
All three readily admit that having everything on one floor and the carts for moving supplies have been a blessing for their aging volunteer force. “We can load 48 bags on each cart and it’s much easier on our backs,” Ron explained.
The food pantry is run entirely by volunteers and even the director’s position is unpaid.
They do two distribution days every month. The bags include staples including canned soup, fruit and vegetables, peanut butter, cereal, pasta and sauce, tuna, ramen noodles, jelly and mac and cheese. The first forty bags also include a dozen eggs, cheese and bread. Clients are eligible to receive one bag of supplies each month.
At Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas the bags include special foods for holiday meals. For example, at Thanksgiving clients receive a turkey and a disposable pan to cook it in along with all the fixings for a traditional holiday dinner.
They also give fresh produce each time and clients can receive produce on both of those distribution days. Ron and other volunteers take turns picking up a truckload of produce each month from the fairgrounds in Circleville. The produce donation varies each month but may include celery, potatoes, zucchini, sweet corn, berries, carrots or whatever is in season at the time.
While the produce comes from the Mid-Ohio Foodbank the rest of their donations come from local businesses, schools, churches and individuals. In fact, the schools had a fill the bus campaign at their Homecoming game in September. Not only did they fill one bus, they were able to fill two school buses with donations. Individual classes get in on the action with cereal drives or canned food drives throughout the year. Panera in Canal Winchester even helps by donating day old bread. The partner churches have regular food drives as well, each one assigned a specific kind of food that is most needed at the time.
“It’s incredible because all we have to do is say that we are low on cereal this month or that we need mac and cheese and people always step up to help. This community gives and gives, maybe sometimes when they don’t have it to give. They’re good to us, they’re good neighbors,” Kris said.
The Ashville IGA donated the Thanksgiving turkeys and sells the food pantry eggs and cheese at cost. In December, County Line Meats donated a pound of ground beef for every order placed that month and encouraged their customers to donate a pound as well. In all, they were able to deliver 110 pounds of ground beef to the food pantry at the first of the year.
While they do collect basic information from each client, they do not require proof of income to receive these food donations. They point out that their clients are using the food pantry as needed rather than simply because it’s there. In fact the average client comes just seven to eight times a year. “They’re not coming just because they can get something for free or to take advantage. They’re coming when they truly need to and we’re just glad to be here to help,” Kris said.
She explained that their largest client base is the age 65 and up group. “Many of them are alone and they rely on us to help them through the month. Their spouse has died and they have lost a good part of their income but they still have the same rent and electric bills. Their cost of living doesn’t go down and buying food often is at the bottom of the list because they’re choosing between food and medicine,” she explained.
Ron affirmed that the need is real. “We have people tell us they don’t have any food at home and that this will really help. They have tears in their eyes and they don’t argue with what they get, they don’t complain. They always seem to be glad to see us and we’re just as glad to see them,” he said.
They have a delivery schedule that reaches homebound people in the community. For those folks who can’t get out to shop, they also provide some necessities like laundry detergent and toilet paper. For individuals with pets, the food pantry accepts donations of small pet food as well.
For all the wonderful generosity toward the food pantry, February and March tend to be slower months for donations even though the need is year round. They invite anyone who wishes to help to consider that winter is a time when food pantries tend to need assistance the most.
“We couldn’t be more grateful for the community and for all they have done for us. When we were here building, neighbors brought water and meals and cookies over for the guys working. People have given in ways we never imagined,” Kris said.
It is clear that the food pantry and its volunteers are there simply to be good neighbors. “We aren’t here to judge or to make someone feel bad because they’re here for a helping hand. We’re just here to be that helping hand,” Kris explained.
Ron added “I think the Lord would be really happy with what we’re doing to help others.”
The Ashville Food Pantry serves the residents of Teays Valley Local School District with food assistance and emergency food. They also provide limited financial assistance for housing and utility needs. Want to help? There are bins on the front porch for dropping off food donations after hours. Monetary donations can be made via credit card and PayPal at this link or by sending a check payable to Ashville Food Pantry to 20 Church Street, Ashville, Ohio 43103.
Want to get involved? They are always in need of volunteers to help with all manner of work including sorting donations, packing bags and helping with giveaway day. Keep up with their news, events and needs by following them on Facebook or call 614.687.2442 for information.
Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we learn about an exciting renovation happening in historic Chillicothe.
The phrase “if walls could talk” may sound cliché but that’s the focus of a big renovation happening now at a historic home in Chillicothe. The early nineteenth century era home is being transformed into a boutique bed and breakfast named for two prominent former residents. Now known as The Willis-James, the 6,000 square foot home is expected to provide guests with an experience that fuses old traditions with sophisticated hospitality.
Owners Drew Musser and Steph Moore have an extensive plan and a vision to honor the heritage of the home while giving their guests an exceptional, memorable stay.
What’s so special about this house?
From the pocket doors to the eleven fireplaces to the history of the people who lived there, the Federal/Greek Revival house and its story could fill a book. That story begins with Nathaniel Willis who was an apprentice in Benjamin Franklin’s printing office in Boston. He started his own newspaper, participated in the Boston Tea Party and was a veteran of the Revolutionary War all before journeying to the Northwest Territory and this new town called Chillicothe. When Willis arrived in 1797, the town had been laid out only the year before.
Here, he started the first newspaper in the Northwest Territory, securing his status in the area as a contemporary and friend of prominent men in Ohio history including Ohio’s sixth governor Thomas Worthington. The Scioto Gazette would go on to operate for 110 years, becoming the oldest continuously operating newspaper in Ohio.
Willis built the original house in 1805. The home changed hands over the centuries with each new owner expanding the home, improving and leaving their own mark. One such owner was Thomas James who is known as the “Father of the Western Iron Industry” for the work he did in constructing iron forges throughout southern Ohio and Missouri. The city of St. James, Missouri is named in his honor.
The house also was held by Eleanor Tiffin and Matthew Cook. She was the daughter of Ohio’s first governor Edward Tiffin. The home remained with Tiffin descendants for more than a century.
Drew can weave together the entire narrative of the people who called this place home and the influences they had on the house. As they have worked on the home for nearly two years, they have found where it has been added on to and uncovered interesting details like a large painted archway first thought to be wood that’s actually stone.
Long forgotten artifacts help to tell the stories of former inhabitants including Wesley Claypool whose labeled vest was found beneath attic floor boards.
While they are honoring the integrity of this home’s history, they intend to blend in 21st century amenities aimed at appealing to the modern guest. Each room will have its own thermostat, a king or queen bed fitted with high quality linens, slippers and robes. Each room will have a luxurious new bathroom fit for royalty complete with a walk-in shower and a comfortable tub for a long soak.
In all, the house has five guest rooms including one ADA accessible guest room on the main level and a two-room suite upstairs.
Guests will find nooks and crannies in common areas throughout the house where they might linger to relax and unwind. For example, just beyond the breakfast room, a greenhouse or orangery as it was once called will be at the ready for anyone wishing to sit with a book and a glass of wine. “There will be lots of spaces to relax and to make you just want to hang for a while,” Steph explained. “We want people to feel welcome to make this house their home during their stay,” she said.
Yet, they also want guests to explore the best that Chillicothe and the surrounding area have to offer. They are focused on helping guests discover the experiences that will make their stay special. Whether it be an in-room massage or help locating the best hiking trail, the hope is to create an authentic experience that allows guests to feel like they are the first to discover the amazing qualities that make the area special.
They intend to bring in local products such as Rost Coffee, local produce and Amish baked goods to provide guests with a taste of the area as well.
The property boasts a carriage house that will provide space for public rental. The board room table for twelve can be removed for small social gatherings and events. An ADA accessible restroom and kitchenette will be available for comfort and convenience. The upstairs of the carriage house will be Steph and Drew’s new home. As primary caretakers, the couple will provide top notch daily housekeeping services and home cooked breakfasts.
The couple do know a thing or two about hospitality. They are avid travelers who love the bed and breakfast experience. They have lived and worked in resort communities like Vail, Colorado and Santa Barbara California throughout their married life. She has been in the luxury boutique hospitality business for the last 28 years and has specialized in operations, finance and business development.
“It’s one thing to work hard for someone else’s dreams but it’s so meaningful to get to work on your own dreams and visions,” Steph said.
Drew is a Chillicothe native and Chillicothe High School graduate. The Ohio State University graduate has been an elementary school educator for the last several years. His local roots run deep and he has family in the area. “We love to travel and always go to bed and breakfasts but we also love to be home and to cook, to be surrounded by people,” Drew said. “There’s always room for one more! The more the merrier” Steph exclaimed!
“We want to give the traveler somewhere nice, somewhere special to stay and we want to give Chillicothe something to be proud of,” Drew said. “We want to honor the history and the integrity of the house and the town, but still give guests the comforts they appreciate. We want to be a part of the town’s story.”
These images show parts of the Willis-James in various stages of restoration and construction.
While The Willis-James is still under construction, they will be ready to host guests during the Christmas Tour of Historic Homes on December 11-12.
Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we talk with Daniel Bryan at ABC Drivetrain Parts and Service in Lancaster. They are busy gearing up for their Veterans’ Appreciation Day where they will give free oil changes to about a hundred veterans.
Something special happens at ABC Drivetrain Parts and Service every November, just in time for Veterans Day. That’s when this Lancaster business organizes a small army of volunteers and sponsors to provide free oil changes and even lunch for local veterans.
General Manger Daniel Bryan describes their Veterans’ Appreciation Day as “something special” as it brings together so many people who wish to use their skills and assets to give back to local veterans. “We call it a family event because the volunteers are literally family or they’re like family. They’re previous employees and people we’ve worked with closely. The sponsors are businesses we’ve worked with and people we can depend on like family,” he said.
Here’s what happens. On Saturday, November 13, veterans will receive a free full service oil change at ABC Drivetrain. There are donuts first thing in the morning and a free lunch available too. All of the labor, parts, supplies and food are donated. Even the tables, chairs and propane heaters are donated for the comfort of the veterans while they wait.
“We are normally closed on Saturdays but we open up especially for this. We provide the facility, labor and service. Everyone volunteers their time. We typically have forty to fifty volunteers who help with things like getting veterans signed in and you name it. We have former employees who come back and help with the oil changes so we can keep things moving and provide every veteran with a quality oil change,” he added.
Daniel went on to list the many local partners who help and that list is long. NAPA Auto Parts provides the oil filters, R.D. Holder donates the oil, and Advance Auto Parts donates miscellaneous items they need including windshield wiper fluid. Jasper Engines and Transmissions donates bottled water and door prizes, Greg Clarke provides breakfast, Cherry Street Pub takes care of the lunch truck and Taylor Rental provides the tent, tables, chairs and heaters to keep everyone warm. Even their web designer, Complete Marketing Resources, gets in on the action donating their services to design the flier and update their website with their event info for free. The VA Hospital in Chillicothe provides literature about their services and there are goody bags for each veteran.
While this is the sixth year that ABC Drivetrain has organized this event, it actually began the year before with local business man Bill Allman. Mr. Allman was killed in a car accident while helping someone else. When two of his technicians came to work for ABC Drivetrain they mentioned the neat thing their late boss had done for veterans the previous year. “We wanted to carry on the legacy,” Daniel said.
While everything is free, any donations received that day will go to Honor Flight Columbus which honors our nation’s senior veterans with a trip to Washington D.C. to visit the nation’s memorials. Each year, they receive monetary donations from the VFW, General Machine, Locher, Inc., The Carriage Company and Ace Fence and Deck.
A Marine Corps veteran himself, this cause is near and dear to Daniel’s heart. “It’s amazing to me. In all the years we’ve been doing this, very rarely has anyone told me no. When I tell them it’s for veterans, everyone is all in,” he said. “We try to grow it every year. Right now, about 100 veterans are served each year but we really want to make it bigger.”
Oil changes are offered on a first come first served basis to any veteran with a DD214 or Veteran ID card. The event starts at 8 a.m. with the Pledge of Allegiance, National Anthem, a prayer and flag raising. It will end at 4 p.m.
ABC Drivetrain also offers a year round discount on labor to veterans and first responders. “We like to give back in whatever way we can,” he explained.
Theirs is a unique business. It was opened by Daniel’s in-laws Jeff and Bridgett Hinerman in 1996. Jeff had experience with transmissions but suffered a back injury at work. When doctors said he would never walk again, he didn’t allow that diagnosis or a wheelchair to slow him down. Together, Jeff and Bridgett along with Bridgett’s parents who worked part time, set out to build a business that could provide for their family.
Today, the business has grown to employ eight people including a roster of ASE Certified Master Mechanics to see to nearly all your auto care needs. Jeff, whose prognosis was so dire, is indeed walking again and has been for nearly twenty years.
“We use the word family around here a lot. Some of us are related and some of us aren’t. But you spend so much time with the people you work with that they become like family.”
Consequently, he said the owners prioritize looking out for employees and customers as they would their own family. “Our mechanics are all experienced and certified,” he said as he described the importance that experience plays in their work. “Safety is a big priority for Jeff. He was injured in a work accident so he knows how important it is. So we have a fork lift, engine lifts, all the things to prevent anyone from getting hurt,” he said.
“What’s the saying? If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life? That’s how we operate around here,” he said. “We look forward to doing this every year and invite any veteran around to come and spend some time with us. Let us change your oil and get to meet you. It’s all free because we just want to say thanks.”
Visit ABC Drivetrain at 330 S. Broad Street, Lancaster. Veterans who wish participate in Veterans Appreciation Day should remember that services are offered first come first served. Look for the sign-in sheet when you arrive. To learn more about this business or to book an appointment for another day, visit their website here.
You can also contact them if you wish to support their Honor Flight fundraiser. Want to know more about Honor Flight? Click here.
When the Circleville Pumpkin Show opens next month, it will be a welcome return to normalcy for the city after taking a year off in 2020. This will be the 114th edition of the Pumpkin Show and, while there will be a few pandemic related changes, organizers say it will be the same incredible hometown event that visitors have come to expect.
Circleville native Barry Keller has been Pumpkin Show Vice President for 25 years and says that volunteers have stayed busy preparing for the event. “This year there will be some changes because of Covid but we are excited to welcome people back to downtown Circleville and the Pumpkin Show,” he said. “This is a mostly outdoor event so we believe it is as safe as other large outdoor events and we look forward getting back to normal this year.”
Visitors will see a few pandemic related changes. For example, their longtime ride company has retired so there will be new rides with a new company and a completely different layout. The family owned and Indiana based Poor Jack Amusements will bring traditional family favorites like the carousel along with some modern thrill rides.
Meanwhile cherished traditions like their seven parades, live music, outdoor vendors, contests and pumpkin goodness will continue as normal.
But this isn’t a normal event. The Circleville Pumpkin Show attracts 400,000 people in four days and is the sixth largest festival of any kind in the country. With pumpkin food, pumpkin carving and giant pumpkins topping as much as 1,700 pounds, it’s the oldest and largest festival in Ohio. In other words, they don’t call it “The Greatest Free Show On Earth” for nothing.
There are parades to celebrate pets, community, queens and even bands. In fact, Gary and Connie Sharpe, owners of Circleville-based Health Care Logistics are sponsoring the Ohio State University Marching Band to participate in the Parade of Bands on Thursday night. This is the third time the Sharpes have made this generous sponsorship and a shining example of how volunteers, sponsors and the entire community come together to make this event successful.
“This isn’t just another festival. It’s a community homecoming. It’s an attraction for people from all over the country and all over the world. It’s the Pumpkin Show and people look forward to it all year,” Keller explained. “You can always tell when it’s Pumpkin Show time because people start to freshen up their storefronts, they clean up, paint buildings, freshen up mulch. Pumpkins and mums start to appear at homes and everyone gets in on the act of helping the town put our best foot forward.”
It’s also the biggest fundraiser of the year for civic groups, churches, school organizations, small businesses and vendors of all kind. “For some of these organizations, the money they make at the Pumpkin Show funds their activities for the year. It’s important that they have a good year,” he explained.
Courtney Hart owns Ivy Court in downtown Circleville and has been a vendor at the Pumpkin Show for several years. The local native’s shop has a host of handmade items personalized to Round Town and its famous Pumpkin Show. They also sell plants and a carefully curated selection of handmade items. “The Pumpkin Show is our number one event every year but we also had our online sales to keep us going. I can’t imagine how hard it was for all the small businesses, vendors and civic groups that badly needed the sales. It’s not just a fun event, it’s important to the economy,” she said.
She lit up when asked to describe the event. “It’s like Christmas. I’ve been coming since I was a little girl and have always look forward to it. People absolutely love the tradition of it. That’s what the Pumpkin Show is all about. If you’re from here, it’s like a big homecoming and a class reunion every year. If you’re not from here, it’s still an amazing festival. Not one disappointing block and so much to see and do,” she smiled.
Hart’s business is known for merchandise featuring the festival’s mascot Mr. Winky. They will have apparel, mugs, cutting boards, burlap prints and other unique pieces celebrating the event and the city. These items will be available in her South Court Street store beginning October 1 and will also be found in their festival booth. “We can hardly wait,” she exclaimed.
Keller invites everyone to attend and credits organizers, the community, sponsors, and the 250 or more volunteers who help to keep the Pumpkin Show successful year after year. “We couldn’t do it without everyone working together and we hope the community and everyone who attends will enjoy having the Pumpkin Show back this year,” he said. “Being an outdoor event, we believe this is as safe as the other large outdoor events but we encourage people to use their own judgement. If people have concerns about Covid, it’s a personal choice to not attend and we encourage you to stay away for now but to come back when you feel it’s safe,” he said.
They are waiting for direction from the health department regarding precautions necessary for indoor displays and events and will announce those changes as they become available.
Rushcreek Feed and Supply Company has been a Bremen landmark and gathering place for sixty years. They’ll be celebrating that big anniversary with an event this Saturday.
With a wide selection, personal service and a large delivery area, it’s no wonder they have a loyal customer following.
Manger Justin Shumaker talked about their selection of products which is almost too long to remember. In fact, they pride themselves on being a one stop shop for livestock feed, pet food, lawn and garden needs, fertilizer and much more. That list includes:
Pet Feed and Supplies
Garden Supplies and Tools
Honey Bee Supplies
Deer Minerals and Products for Hunting
Banks Deer Blinds and Feeders
Arrowquip Cattle Handling Equiment
ADS Plastic Piping
Birdseed, Squirrel Food and Supplies
Livestock feed and products for goats, chickens, pigs, cattle and horses
Custom Blended Fertilizers
Water Softener Pellets
Custom Mix Feed for All Species
They also buy corn, beans, oats and wheat and offer delivery and a number of other services. For example, they provide custom application of fertilizer as well as custom spray applications for fields.
“So many people rely on the customer service from a small company like us as opposed to a box store. We’re more versatile in a lot of ways like in making custom feeds. Only a local mill like this can provide this service,” Shumaker said. “Small businesses and small towns rely on good customers. We like to help our customers as much as we can and they like that they know us when they come in. That helps a lot.”
It all began on June 21, 1961 when five local farmers partnered to purchase the Brown-Burnworth Company from Bessie Brown. That company had been on this site since 1915 and had put Bremen on the map for its name brand Eagle Flour. There had actually been a mill here for many years before that. In fact, their office building was constructed in 1853.
Those farmers who partnered to organize Rushcreek Feed and Supply were Robert Pontious, Raymond, Scholl, Art Kelly, Joe Killbarger Sr. and Joe Kilbarger Jr.
Over the years. There have been numerous updates to the facilities to allow for expanded capacity and the addition of new products. Today they employ eleven people and are on the lookout for some more help.
Join them this Saturday, August 28 to celebrate their 60th anniversary. From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. there will be food, door prizes and some vendors on site. The public is invited to attend this free event.
Rushcreek Feed and Supply Company is located at 103 W. Broad Street in Bremen. Call them at 740.569.4105 or follow them on Facebook.
Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month. Today we talk shop with the owner of Rivers Bend Bike Shop!
Jamie Sharp has loved bicycles for as long as he can remember. That enthusiasm shines through when he talks about his business Rivers Bend Bike Shop in historic downtown Chillicothe. The shop offers bicycle sales and service along with a host of accessories and products for cyclists of all ages and experience levels.
Sharp actually started working in a local bicycle shop when he was just a kid. “I needed a bike to go riding with a buddy and two girls. I had narrowed it down to a Rink’s bike that was cheap and in my budget or this bike shop bike that was so much nicer but a little more money. It was white with red and gold trim – a Scorpion bike. I went back and forth but went for that better bike and I’m so glad I did. That was my first lesson in how you get what you pay for when it comes to bikes,” he said.
Sharp says the number one question he gets every day is whether he does bicycle repair. “Yes! I do repair bicycles. That’s one of the big things that a bike shop does and people bring me their bikes for tune-ups and for all sorts of reasons,” he said.
While a bicycle seems like a straightforward thing to put together, they tend to be more complicated than a lot of people realize and are often assembled incorrectly by people who do it at home or at the big box stores. “You see a lot of the same problems when they’re not put together by someone who understands bikes. People bring them in with serious things wrong that make the bike harder to ride and less safe,” he said. “A guy recently brought in a bike and the handlebars were on backwards. He said it was like riding a different bike after that. It seems like a simple thing but these are common mistakes.”
He also sells a full line of bicycles to fill every need. “When I was a kid it used to be a cruiser or a ten speed. Now you have all kinds of bikes for specialties,” he said as he described the store’s selection that includes adult comfort bikes, road bikes, mountain bikes, gravel bikes, Ebikes, BMX bikes and all kinds of kids bikes.
Sharp said that he aims to not just sell or service a bike but to truly help the customer. “A lot of times people have questions or they need a little direction. I’m happy to listen, offer advice. People come in only to look around and realize that I’m not just trying to sell something. I’m trying to help them out too.”
This is the kind of service offered by most bike shops but traditional bike shops are becoming more difficult to find. “Years ago, every town around here had at least one bike shop,” he said as he began reminiscing about all the bike shops that once existed in the area. “Now people have to travel just to find one so I guess it is pretty unique that we’re here.”
Sharp first opened his own shop in 2008. Locals may remember Rent and Roll along the bike path in town where he rented roller blades and bikes. The following year, he relocated to a Water Street location where he became a full service bike shop. He grew again two years ago, moving just around the corner to a Walnut Street location with off street parking and more display space.
He noted that the pandemic has been good for hobby cyclists but has created some challenges for people in his line of work. “People want to get outside, they want to exercise and a bike is a great way to do that. You could get out of the house, exercise even when the gyms were closed and have fun so the bike world really took off last year,” he said.
Unfortunately, the pandemic caused supply issues as well since it became harder to get in new bikes and parts. “I sold every bike I had. I sold every used bike I had at home and whenever I was able to order bikes, they would be sold before I got them here. It’s been a tough year.”
Sharp is an avid mountain biker who supports the biking community as a trail steward for Great Seal State Park and as an active member of Columbus Ohio Mountain Biking Organization or COMBO. This group advocates for new trails around central Ohio and in Ross County. Here, Sharp hopes to see more mountain bike trails developed to appeal to overnight guests. “Some of the best mountain bike trails in the state are right here but we need more to entice people to come ride. We want them to stay longer and spend more money in our community,” he explained.
He also encourages use of the bike and walking path that uses the abandoned B&O Railroad corridor to connect Chillicothe and Washington Court House. Locals call it the floodwall but it’s actually called Paint Creek Recreational Trail and offers 32 paved miles for exercise and recreation. “It’s a great place to get out and go for a ride,” he exclaimed.
What is it about bicycles that he loves so much? “I’ve been asking myself that for a long time. It’s the freedom of being on two wheels. You’re in total control of those two wheels and where they go. That makes me happy. If you think back, the first feeling of freedom when you were a kid was on a bike. Some of us just never lost that,” he said.
River Bends Bicycle Shop is located at 86 N. Walnut Street in Chillicothe. Stop by, call them at 740.779.0061 or follow them on Facebook.
When the Lancaster Festival makes its return this year, things will look a little different. However, the quality of the acts, the devotion of the volunteers and the celebration of the arts will be as powerful and enthusiastic as ever. Changes were made this year to make the event safer for audiences and performers in these pandemic times after taking a year off in 2020.
With less than a month to go before the nine day event, Executive Director Deb Connell says efforts are ramping up to make this “the best show we can and keep everyone safe.”
The event is a little shorter than normal and there will be no indoor performances but the schedule is still packed with impressive performers including Lancaster’s own world class symphony orchestra and acts to appeal to any audience. World renowned guitarist Don Felder will headline the festival. The former member of The Eagles helped to develop that band’s sound, penning some of their biggest hits including “Hotel California.”
“He’s one of the best guitarists in the world. He invented the doubled necked guitar and wrote a lot of the Eagles’ music. People may not remember his name but they know his sound and they love his music,” Connell said.
Other headliners include Dancing Dream – An ABBA Tribute Band and country music group The Band Perry. There will also be performances and events at venues around town including events for children and families and an array of musical genres designed to suit every taste. For example, bluegrass group String Therapy will perform in downtown one night while another night will feature renowned jazz artists when The Byron Stripling Band take the stage with guest Bobby Floyd. “Byron Stripling is a world famous jazz musician who played with Dizzy Gillespie, Wynton Marsalis and a lot of the greats. This is a big deal having him here,” she explained.
A Percussion Ensemble and a Soloist’s Spotlight will feature the talents of members of the Lancaster Festival Orchestra which is one aspect that makes this festival unique. “Our orchestra musicians come from all over the country and all over world. They are wonderful, professional musicians who are top notch in every way. They all have other opportunities to perform but they choose to come here and to spend this time with the people of Lancaster and creating beautiful music for us. We should be proud of that,” she said.
Proud indeed. Those orchestra members are hosted by local families who provide their hospitality at no cost to the musician or the festival. “Some of these musicians have been coming here for years and years. They were young professionals at the time they began and now they bring with them spouses and children. They’ve built relationships with their host families that extend beyond the festival. Some vacation together, they’ve shared weddings and births and all kinds of celebrations. So many of them have such a shared history they love each other like family,” she explained.
This is just one way that volunteers help to run the festival. There is actually a small army of volunteers who take on projects both big and small. While the festival has two full time employees and a handful of seasonal employees during the festival week, it is actually the volunteers that make the event work. “We couldn’t do it without our volunteers. There are about 400 of them. That’s what it takes to make us successful. That’s what it takes to have an event of this scale,” she said. “Everyone associated with the festival owns a piece of the festival and they love and care for it as though it were their own. We did an impact study a few years ago and found that those volunteers give about 28,000 hours of time each and every year.”
There are some changes to insure safety for all this year. For example, the orchestra will be a little smaller than its normal 63 piece size to allow for social distancing on the stage. Connell said that Conductor Gary Sheldon has carefully selected arrangements that will provide audiences the same impressive sound with fewer musicians. “People will not notice any change in the quality of the music.”
Table seating must be purchased in advance in sets of ten this year and gates will open a little later than in past years. Festival events at Ohio University – Lancaster will be smoke free this year since OUL is now a smoke-free campus.
Tickets are on sale now and Connell advises buying early to insure you can attend the events of your choice. In addition to music, there will be other events including the much anticipated Artwalk and the Festival Fair Day.
Being a small business owner is a tough job! That’s why we feature a different small business in our Small Business Spotlight every month! Today we visit Downtown Treatery, a bright and happy donut shop in Jackson where the owners hope to make you smile.
There aren’t many times in life that you will be encouraged to play with your food but that’s exactly what happens at Downtown Treatery. The Jackson donut shop opened just before the pandemic began and has provided much needed smiles for a growing legion of customers.
That’s partly because this isn’t just any ordinary donut shop. Step inside the brightly decorated storefront and you will be greeted by friendly staff, a delicious aroma and uplifting messages on the wall. The positive messages and whimsical décor including a bicycle table are designed to make every customer want to linger.
“Our donuts are great but we want you to come for the experience too,” Nicole Brennen said. She and her husband Brandon developed their unique format that allows customers to customize their orders with an array of icings, glazes and toppings. Essentially, customers can make their donut unique as fun to create as they are to eat.
Customers can also try the Downtown Treatery’s signature donuts with names like Oreo that’s topped with crushed Oreo cookies, the Piglet which features bacon and Extreme Butter Cup which is a chocolate and peanut butter lover’s dream. Their Michael’s Bubble is modeled off a popular treat from another Jackson area business – Michael’s Ice Cream where their daily fresh roasted peanuts top off their signature bubble sundae. These nuts are a prominent part of the Michael’s donut.
Other popular toppings include sprinkles, toasted coconut, Fruity Pebbles and chocolate chips. Icings include flavors like maple, strawberry, cream cheese and lemon while the assorted drizzles include marshmallow, peanut butter, raspberry and classic chocolate.
They also have other menu items like cream horns, brownies, cinnamon rolls, mini pies and beverages.
Another huge piece of the business is custom orders. “We do custom orders for any event you can imagine. We do weddings, birthday parties, bridal showers, retirement parties, gender reveal parties. You name it and we’ve done it,” she said.
“We chose bright, happy colors that kids like because we want to be family friendly and we want to people to smile when they come in. Everyone says just coming in brings a smile and we want them to be happy, to enjoy some donuts and to remember that life is pretty good. It’s not so bad. There’s a lot to smile about,” Nicole said.
Nicole and Brandon sweetly tag teamed the telling of the story that led them to want to open this shop. “It was all her idea. She had talked about it for a while. We had visited something similar on vacation years ago and one day she started talking to me about buildings,” he laughed.
“I knew it was something we should do and I just kept waiting for the right time. Everyone loves donuts, they make people happy. I believe that God has brought us to here to help others, to bring joy to others. I’m grateful to Him for that,” Nicole explained as she discussed how special and decorated donuts have become all the rage for celebrations in the area. “Everyone loves it and it’s another way we can bring a smile!”
When they found the building that would become Downtown Treatery, it had been stripped down to the studs, providing a blank canvas to create the space they need. They hung curtains over the front window during the renovation, waiting until opening day for the big reveal to the community. “When I took down the curtains on the first day, there was a line stretched down the street,” she recalled. “It was incredible the way people showed up for us. I couldn’t believe it!”
That was January 25, 2020. Just six weeks later, the pandemic changed the face of life in Ohio and forced the couple to adjust their business model. “We had to adapt if we wanted to survive and we wanted to survive. Failure wasn’t an option so we started offering curbside pickup. You could order and we would bring your donuts right out to the car. If you’re a small business, you have to get creative.”
Nicole knows something about creativity. As a sports mom, wife, dental practitioner and small business owner she’s always had to balance, juggle and hustle but has done so more than ever this last year. “If it were easy, everyone would do it. I’m no stranger to hard work and I really love the challenge of making things work, finding ways around obstacles and reaching for my dreams,” she said.
Their dining room is open and there’s plenty of room for guests to social distance. Prior to the pandemic, they had welcomed parties of kids in to decorate their own donuts. “We loved doing that and can’t wait to do it again someday,” she said.
While Downtown Treatery is a special place for locals to enjoy, they also have a number of out-of-town guests including some who stop in while visiting town. “Jackson is such a wonderful place. Whether you live here or are just visiting, we welcome everyone to stop by for a donut and smile.”
Downtown Treatery is located at 229 Broadway Street in Jackson. Find hours, menu and more at their Facebook page!