Small Business Spotlight: Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart

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! This time we are pleased to feature Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart in Lithopolis.

Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart adds color and charm to the streetscape in downtown Lithopolis.

Ask Amy and Joseph Contino about their coffee shop and it is clear that it’s not your run-of-the-mill place to buy coffee. The business and its owners have a colorful story and something special to offer. Das KaffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart has stood out as a colorful addition to the Lithopolis streetscape for ten years. The brick exterior with cheerful yellow accents invites customers in but it’s the European experience and German coffee that keeps them coming back.

Joseph is a charismatic storyteller who accepts responsibility for the vision that led to this venture.

The pair are veterans – he’s an Italian from Groveport and she is from generations of good German stock in Cincinnati. They met while serving in the US Air Force where she picked up the call sign Frau Burkhart, a fun twist on her maiden name and German heritage with a hat tip to Cloris Leachman’s character Frau Blucher in Young Frankenstein.

The coffee shop is actually modeled off the German cafes that Joseph, an Air Force Pilot, discovered during his many trips to Germany. “We were never what you would call coffee snobs. We were utilitarian drinkers and really just drank coffee for the caffeine. That all changed my first time in Germany,” he said.  “I was tired, I was exhausted and I just wanted a cup of coffee to give me some energy. One taste and I was hooked. It was the best coffee I’ve ever tasted.”

He discovered that coffee is less beverage and more a way of life in Germany where every restaurant, dance club, beer garden and café serves excellent coffees. Inspired and motivated, he began searching the country for the best of the best German brew while convincing a reluctant Amy that this was a good idea.

The rest, as they say, is history. Today, the coffee shop sits on the main drag through town, not far from central Ohio communities where consumers are looking for a different kind of coffee shop experience.

And it is different from other American coffee houses.

The laidback vibe here is offset by cool techno music, a reminder of the German club scene. Walls are adorned with artwork and subtle humorous nods to the country.  “We have a different vibe and a different product on purpose. We don’t want to be like everyone else and we actually embrace the different. That’s what makes us who we are,” he said. “What we do here is organic and sincere.”

What really makes them who they are is the coffee, pastries and light sandwiches that keep a steady stream of customers coming in throughout the day. The menu is extensive but they are known for their Das KaffeeHaus German blend, a brew that is derived from a German recipe that dates back to 1632 in Aachen, Germany. They say the proprietary blend is a light roast by American standards and a much different experience than most US coffee drinkers have come to expect from a chain coffee shop.

They are also known for their Schwarzenegger Austrian Roast, Blitzkrieg French Roast and D’Allessandro Italian Espresso Roast. The menu includes some specialty teas, smoothies and hand dipped Velvet Ice Cream from nearby Utica, Ohio. Like in Germany, real ice cream is used in their Frappe’ called the Frostlatte and in a drink called an Eis Kaffee – A coffee/ice cream float where hot coffee is poured over your favorite ice cream and topped with whipped cream. The Eis Kaffee happens to be the most popular coffee drink in Germany.

Daily specials offer regulars the opportunity to try something different.

Amy said the coffee is the star of the show here but they also offer pastries that are handmade daily as well as some simple sandwiches. Pastries you may find in their case include cream puffs, turnovers, strudels and Bavarian pretzels, complete with their German and American names proudly displayed. She did admit that marrying German traditions and the American palette can be a challenge. “We tend to expect things to be sweet but pastries in Germany tend to be not at all sweet so we’ve had to make some adjustments,” she explained.

They do not claim to run an authentic German business in the heart of Ohio. Instead, they have taken the best of the German café concept and tried to make it a fun, delicious experience for a consumer who is looking for a bit of culture and something different with their coffee.

Listeners of 99.7 the Blitz Radio in Columbus know that they’re the official coffee of the Blitz and have likely heard Joseph read funny and sometimes edgy copy as Herr Joseph. They are also developing a beer garden that will be located behind the coffee shop and that they hope to have ready for Oktoberfest 2021. They are open to speaking with anyone interested in franchising and investment opportunities as well.

To get the full Das KauffeeHaus von Frau Burkhart experience, stop by 45 East Columbus Street in Lithopolis. Follow them on Facebook for the latest news or visit them online for hours, menu and to hear some of Herr Joseph’s radio spots.

Small Business Spotlight: Castaways Restaurant

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!

This month we are excited to feature Castaways Restaurant in Lancaster, an iconic eatery high on the hill “above the fairgrounds” as the advertisements used to say.  Established over seventy years ago at this very location, Castaways is a Lancaster staple.

While some necessary changes have been made through the years, the meat and potatoes of the restaurant remains the same – the food!  Fresh steaks, chops, and burgers sourced from Bay Food Market accompany a wide variety of seafood, sandwiches, salads, and stone-baked pizzas on the menu.  Their legendary Prime Rib Wednesdays, held bi-weekly, have been satisfying crowds who come in to “eat at the butcher’s house” for decades.

For as long as anyone can remember, the Kraft family has been connected to the historic restaurant.  The connection, first through the Bay farm and then through Bay Food Market, eventually led to Bay Food Market owner David Kraft buying the restaurant in 1997 when original owner Fred Eaton decided to sell.

For many years the restaurant stuck with what worked in more than just the kitchen.  Traditional marketing tactics were used to promote the restaurant and word of mouth was heavily relied upon.  However, in recent years as David’s daughter Micole Ruff has taken on more responsibility with the family business, she’s made the marketing side one of her top priorities.  Step #1 was to make social media a serious part of their strategy.

With an eye for photography, Micole posts to social media nearly every day, whether it be photos on Instagram or updates and shout outs on Facebook.  On Sundays and Mondays, when the restaurant is closed, she even makes an effort to shout out other local businesses and establishments.

Like everyone else, the business had to evolve last year because of the challenges that came with the pandemic. “We just did what they told us we needed to do,” Micole said, referring to operating a restaurant amidst a global pandemic.  “We really didn’t have a choice.  But we were lucky that we already had a good amount of carry-out business before this all happened.”  The already-established base of their carryout business, she says, is a large reason why their temporary but mandatory shift to carry-out only service was successful.

Then they experimented with bringing in musicians to play on the patio for the guests dining outdoors on summer and autumn Prime Rib Wednesdays.  That went from experiment to official part of the schedule each week almost immediately.  Now, musicians are lining up to play once the weather breaks this year. The calendar is already booked through May.

One of the most publicized efforts over the past year was the opening of their kitchen to Jamie Mast, owner of The Original Jimmy’s Jawbreaker concession trailer, another legendary staple of the local dining community.  Several times throughout 2021, Jamie was able to come in and cook alongside the Castaways crew in the kitchen.  On these special nights, the Original Jimmy’s Jawbreaker burgers and homemade cannolis were offered alongside the full Castaway’s menu.  Doing something a little bit different offered a lift to the business.  “Jamie and her businesses have been long time customers so it was a natural fit to partner with her for something like this.  It was great for all of us!”

With seventy years of experience preparing delicious food, Castaways has a loyal fan base beating a path to the off-the-beaten path restaurant above the city. They invite newcomers to follow their lead and discover what all the fuss is about when people gush about their delectable fresh cut meats, homemade dressings and stone baked pizzas.

Visit Castaways at 1500 North High Street in Lancaster. You can also find them on Facebook or Instagram and view their full menu on their website.  Dine in or carry out your dinner Tuesdays through Saturdays and don’t forget to pre-order your Wednesday prime rib feast a day ahead of time!

Small Business Spotlight: Made On Main

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!

Nothing makes a crafter happier than a fun project, unique supplies and someone to share it all with. Made on Main in Ashville provides all that, even finding ways to keep people connected and happily crafting through the pandemic.

When asked about her store, owner Tiffany Jackson has a long list of reasons why her store is so special why it is drawing customers from all over the region and beyond. “There aren’t a lot of local craft stores around and we are different than your typical big box craft store because we carry different items. What really sets us apart is that we partner with other small businesses to sell brands that you can’t find everywhere else,” she explained.

While Made on Main specializes in paper crafts like scrapbooking and card making, they also holdclasses on mosaics, quilting, painting, knitting, crochet and beyond. “If it sounds like fun, we are willing to give it a try,” she exclaimed

In addition to raw materials, the store offers kits for a variety of projects including things like cards, applique, wall hangings or mini albums. “For example, a kit might include everything you need to make six to ten cards. Everything is pre-cut and there is a picture of the completed project and instructions so you can make it look just like my finished project or you can do your own thing,” she said. “This way, you can make a variety of things without being stuck with a lot of leftover materials.”

The store actually started a few years ago when Tiffany began hosting classes and make-and-take parties in her home. These events grew so much in popularity that she outgrew her home and badly needed space. When the old apothecary building in Ashville became available, it was a clear choice for her growing business. Now, the store has plenty of space for classes, crops and even a party rental room.

Day long crops give crafters opportunity to gather with others to work on their projects. For those who need or want some more direction, classes are offered as well.

While the pandemic has made events and gatherings much more challenging, it has also created opportunity for crafters to spend more time working on projects at home. “When we were closed earlier this year, I had people knocking on my door asking for projects so we started putting together more kits, things they could do at home.”

They also began doing online classes, offering curbside pick-up and doing more online business.

In addition, the store offers some handmade items that would make great stocking stuffers and gifts. Baby quilts, dog scarves and pillows are just a few of the handmade gift items that can be found on the store’s second floor.

Gift cards are available too.

All of this combined keeps customers coming back, not just from Ashville but from much further away. “We are a small town but we are just fifteen minutes from Columbus so we get customers from Grove City, Canal Winchester, from all over because we are just so different from the big box craft stores,” she said.

She actually organized a shop hop with several other craft stores in the area this summer. For a small fee, participants could visit each store to receive a discount and a make-and-take project that could be completed in person at the store or taken home for later. ‘It was so popular, we already have dates for 2021. People loved it and we loved it because we met new friends!”

The next Shop Hop will be July 1 through August 14, 2021 and participants can buy their tickets online in the coming months.

Tiffany isn’t just community minded when it comes to crafting. She also is holding a fundraiser to help with the construction of Ashville’s new food pantry. She is raffling two die cut machines – the Big Shot, valued at $120, and the Big Shot Foldaway, valued at $160. Raffle tickets are $5 each and can be purchased on their website or at the store. The drawing will be held at 3 p.m. on December 5.

Made on Main also has big plans for Small Business Saturday on November 28 so be sure to stop by for some early Christmas shopping and to stock up on projects and supplies for yourself this winter!

“Crafting is how I decompress and it’s wonderful helping others and bringing together others who love to craft,” Tiffany said. “When someone pops in to say hello because they were here once and enjoyed it that makes my day.”

Made on Main is located at 4 East Main Street in Ashville. Call 740.983.6777, follow them on Facebook or shop online.

Small Business Spotlight: Casa Del Taco

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!

Since 1984, Casa Del Taco has been one of Chillicothe’s signature flavors. The family owned business offers up fast casual Mexican food in two locations.

Owner Bill Barker said they set themselves apart from other restaurants in town with made-to-order food that uses fresh, high quality ingredients. “Everything is very fresh and we make it when you order it. We make our own sauces, avocado dressing, and chicken tortilla soup from scratch using our own recipes,” he explained.

Lean ground beef, real cheese, and fresh vegetables are just some of the delicious ingredients used to make their signature dishes. “We sell more regular tacos than anything but we are known for a lot of things,” he said as he began to list popular dishes like their Mexican Chef Salad with homemade avocado dressing, burritos and Casadillas which is their version of the quesadilla. “We want to be proud of the product we serve and one way we do that is to start with the best ingredients.”

That pride in work has been instilled in the entire family. Bill and his wife Tammy have four grown sons who are all involved in the business. Three work for Casa Del Taco while their youngest son manages the Old Canal Smoke House which they purchased in 2013. “I’m proud that they all chose to stay and help. It isn’t the easiest business in the world but we all love what we do and love serving great meals to people,” he said.

When they opened their first location on Bridge Street, the landscape of this now busy street was much different. At the time there were only about eight restaurants. Today there are close to eighty and growing.

As the city has grown, so has Casa Del Taco. They opened a second location near Kroger on Western Avenue, making it easier for residents on that side of town to obtain their “Casa Del fix.” In fact, the restaurant is a favorite first stop for many former residents when they visit town as well as a destination for people all over the region who have fallen in love with the food. “It’s pretty neat when someone says they drove from far away just to eat your food.”

While Bill is quick to admit that the restaurant industry is a challenging one, he said the complications caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have made it even more difficult. They were able to remain open with pick up services at Old Canal and drive-thru services at Casa Del Taco but traffic was diminished during these months.

They also have had to negotiate challenges like supply chain issues and staffing shortages. “Things that we bought for years suddenly weren’t available. Pork was harder to find because of meat shortages. It was just a real challenging time.”

The company employs about eighty people but they do have some openings available. “We are blessed to have such a great staff but things would go better if we had a few more people. But the people we have, I can’t say enough good about them. They’re rock stars, they’re soldiers, they’re so loyal to what we are doing and we are truly fortunate to have them,” he said.

Casa Del Taco is located at 1055 North Bridge Street and at 1360 Western Avenue in Chillicothe. The Western Avenue location is currently still drive thru only due to the dining room size but the Bridge Street location is open for dine-in or drive-thru. Find them online at www.gottagetyourcasa.com.

Small Business Spotlight: Ohio Steel Recycling

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!

Have some scrap metal in your way? Ohio Steel Recycling will be glad to take it off your hands and pay you for it too.

The company buys a long list of scrap metals from both commercial businesses and individuals. “We don’t care if you bring us a truck full of junk cars or just a trunk full of scrap from around your yard. We’re happy to take it all and will pay you for it,” owner John Belcher said. “That’s better than letting it sit in your way!”

They buy scrap metal that can be upgraded into materials to sell for recycling. For example, junk cars go through a process where they are drained of all fluids including gas and oil before the exhaust, wheels, tires and catalytic converter are removed. The metals and rubber can be recycled while the fluids like gas and oil must be properly disposed of by EPA standards. The car is then run through a compacter before being sold to another facility that will shred and separate the metals for recycling into other useful products.

This is helpful to the environment as it is more eco-friendly friendly to reuse metals than it is to mine more. It also prevents tons of materials from hitting landfills. “The environment would be a lot worse without places like this. Imagine if all this was sitting in a dump somewhere,” he said, gesturing to the hundreds of crushed cars that are stacked and waiting to be hauled off for recycling.

Cars are stripped of hazardous and valuable materials before being compacted and hauled away to be shredded. The shredded metals may be recycled and made into useful products.

But they take more than cars. They accept all sorts of junk vehicles and equipment as well as other items like appliances, copper wire and tubing, iron and steel scrap, aluminum scrap, cast iron, lead, brass and brass alloys, zinc and zinc alloys, demolition scrap, and industrial and manufacturing scrap. The list is quite long and includes almost everything metal.

For the average person, this could mean garage doors, metal siding, old plumbing, a car part or the refrigerator they just replaced.

There are some exceptions. They don’t take anything hazardous, toxic or radioactive. They don’t take any closed containers under pressure like propane or gas cylinders, fire extinguishers or aerosol cans that could explode. Liquids including gas, oil, paint, propane and water aren’t accepted either.

Copper wire that has been stripped from tubing awaits recycling.

Used bullets from a local gun range are among salvage materials that most people wouldn’t even think of as an opportunity to recycle. Copper wire is stripped from tubing, appliances are dismantled and everything that can be recycled is prepared to be trucked out to their next step in the recycling process.

John is always on the lookout for ways to expand the business and said they are about to begin accepting aluminum cans. “Aluminum cans are sort of a break even commodity for us but if it helps the customer, I think we should do it,” he said. “Besides, if they’re bringing us cans, they may realize this is a good place to bring other things.”

One customer hauled in an assortment of metal scrap in a bathtub. “You see all kinds of things in this line of work,” laughed John Belcher.

He works to keep his area as neat as possible given their line of work and encourages employees to remember “just because we’re a junkyard doesn’t mean we have to look like a junkyard!”  He went on to say “people don’t want to bring their nice cars into a bad place. Besides, we want to be good neighbors and keep things as clean as possible.”

John is also conscious of how the pandemic has impacted his business as well as other people and businesses. “It’s been a hard time for a lot of people. We closed for a couple of months and used the time to do some projects here. We’re open again but we’re not back to where we were in April. Honestly, I’m just looking forward to when things get better.”

John and his wife Dusty work together. They’ve been married for twenty years and have seven kids and five grandkids. He’s a Columbus native, living now in Grove City, but looking forward to someday moving back to the country near Stoutsville. He chats freely about the business, family and about finding a work-life balance. “Life is short and it’s important to appreciate the people in your life and the time that you have. Work is important and I really like what I do but you have to enjoy life to its fullest. Every day is important and I need to do better for sure but I’m trying,” he said.

Ohio Steel Recycling is located at 13141 National Road, Etna. Call them at 740.927.5384 and visit them online at www.ohiosteelrecycling.com.

Small Business Spotlight: Perfect Weddings

Small businesses are vital to our communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

beautiful dressWhen it comes to wedding planning, there is nothing more exciting or more stressful than choosing the right dress. Fortunately, local brides have a secret weapon at Perfect Weddings. Here Ellen Rickett uses her experience to help brides select just the right wedding gown and everything else she needs for the bridal party to wear.

In 35 years Ellen has refined her abilities for helping a bride choose the dress that makes them feel the most beautiful while carefully working within her budget. However, there is more to Perfect Weddings than just the bride’s dress. In fact, the relationship a bride and her bridal party develop with the Perfect Weddings staff only begins with dress selection.

“We will help a girl find the dress but it doesn’t end there. A lot of the larger stores will sell you a dress and send you out the door but we facilitate the storage, alterations and pressing. We like to give them one less thing to worry about.”

Perfect Weddings exteriorThe 7,000 square foot facility encompasses two floors of a tudor style shop on Memorial Drive in Lancaster. It is practically a wonderland of wedding gowns, bridal party gowns, homecoming and prom dresses. They also offer tuxedo rentals, jewelry, veils, shoes, garters and even fun socks to prevent the groom from getting cold feet.

Ellen and her daughter Kim started the business after Kim graduated college. They began with just $4,000 and a small shop on East Main Street. Today Kim manages the business while Ellen works directly with customers. However, Ellen doesn’t talk about them like they’re customers. She clearly takes a personal interest in each, making certain their individual experience is pleasant.

“The dress is the first thing you need when planning a wedding and there’s a lot of pressure to find the right one. Every bride wants the perfect dress and it’s my job to help them find it.”

One thing that makes Perfect Weddings unique is that they have three in-house seamstresses who they affectionately call “Angels” because they are known for performing miracles. The Angels perform all alterations on site so that dresses never leave the building until they are picked up for the wedding. “That’s important because they aren’t being shipped off for alterations and stored next to countless other dresses from other stores. We keep the dresses here, make the alterations and continue to store them until the wedding,” she said.

Dresses are even pressed by hand before they leave on the big day.

PressingPandemic related closures have created difficulties for the event business as most gatherings have been cancelled or postponed. “We went from 118 tux rentals in one weekend to none the following weekend,” she recalled. “It was a domino effect of tragedy for the kids, the brides, for us, our designers and distributors, the venues, for everyone involved.”

“Some girls had pictures taken in their prom dresses or had private mini proms with friends. Many weddings have been postponed until fall or until next year and we are here to help them, to help alleviate some worry as we will keep their dresses safe until they’re ready.”

Alleviating stress and worry is a common theme when Ellen discusses their work. “Planning a wedding can be stressful. For many girls, they’ve never planned an event so large. It’s a lot of work, a lot of details, a lot to worry about and we want to ensure that they aren’t worried about their dresses. We aim to give them one less thing to worry about.”

beautiful dress 2Money is another focus for Ellen as she strives to work within any budget. They typically have some dresses on sale for as little as $99 and the range of cost goes up to $2,300. They do offer a payment plan, a service that she said most bridal stores no longer provide.

“I never want to encourage a bride to go over her budget. I don’t work on commission so I have no reason to push something that someone cannot afford,” she explained. “The true reward is that moment when you turn her around to see herself in the mirror and she smiles. She smiles and sometimes tears will flow down her cheek because she knows this is the dress, the one she’s dreamed of. That’s why we do this.”

Ellen speaks with a bride before she comes in for her consultation. “Most girls have an idea of what they want. They know they want long sleeves or strapless or that they want a lot of bling. I talk with them about their desires and about their budget so that I can have some dresses ready for them when they come in.”

With over 600 styles under one roof, finding the right dress sounds intimidating but she said it typically takes just one visit and four to five dresses to find the one they love. “It’s the feeling they have in it. You can tell them they look good but if they don’t feel good, if they don’t feel beautiful, it’s not their dress.”

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Ellen said their business has seen everything. Brides come from all over Ohio and across the country, often by referral. Weddings are sometimes very small or may have a dozen bridesmaids. They have done weddings for four sisters and are currently helping the third sister in another family. “It’s special when they think so much of us they are bringing a family member here.”

Perfect Weddings is located at 430 North Memorial Drive, Lancaster and is available by appointment by calling 740.654.4696. Visit them at perfectweddingsbridal.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Georgie Emerson Vintage

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

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Coming home. That’s how it feels when you enter Georgie Emerson Vintage.

Here you will find a comfortable atmosphere filled with beautiful things. Here you will find kind people who can’t wait to see what you have chosen. You will find laughter and a sense of belonging that will make you want to stay and shop just a little longer.

In every nook and cranny you will find something special, something you won’t find in any other store. Not to mention Pippa, the precious rescue dog who presides over the shop, accepting kisses, ear scratches and other forms of attention lavished on her by loyal shoppers and admirers.

1D4F8768-A1DC-419C-BCB9-9D82B4C2E06AWhen Polly McCormick was a little girl and people asked what she wanted to be when she grew up, she said Nels Olsen on Little House on the Prairie. “I always wanted to be Nels, to have that store counter. So I would play general store and my parents would be my customers,” she laughed.

Today she owns what she calls a vintage lifestyle shop with an enormous sales counter, large rolls of paper and twine, and an atmosphere that would make Nels proud.

She described her childhood with a mother who took her to yard sales, flea markets and auctions. They would find old pieces to clean, reimagine and transform into treasures. “She taught me to paint, sew, craft – I guess you could say it’s in my blood,” she said.

Yet, the road from playing mercantile to owning one was long and painful at times. She had a corporate career for several years and was working as Human Resources Manager for Big Lots when her parents fell ill and she took time off to care for them. After her father died, Polly said she worked to keep her mom in her own home for about seven years. During that time, Polly opened a booth at an antique mall, quietly growing this business and working part time at the antique mall where she learned about working retail.

It was after her mother passed in 2012 that Polly was feeling a little lost and the seeds of Georgie Emerson were planted.  With encouragement and support from her husband Mick, a small shop in downtown Canal was born. But that first 485 square foot shop was short lived as the business grew quickly. In fact, they are now in their fourth location, a 5,000 square foot space that allows Polly and her girls and guys to play with displays and to create charming vignettes at every turn.

Her girls and guys are a few of the 29 local people who create handmade items that are available only at Georgie Emerson.  Some helped Polly look past dirt and junk to transform their current location from cavernous to cozy. “I couldn’t have done it without their help. I might not be here if it weren’t for them,” she said.

Those 29 artists and artisans from Canal Winchester, Lancaster, Pickerington, Ashville and points in between work in a number of mediums  including ceramics, woodworking, crafting, sewing, metalwork, jewelry and painting. These Georgie Emerson exclusive items give the shop a sense of handmade flair to accompany fine quality vintage and antique items, and carefully curated reproduction pieces.

Clothing and accessories, furniture, wall art and a host of decorative items pack the store without feeling overwhelming

Polly finds inspiration in French country as well as modern farmhouse, using a palette of soft colors, beautiful textures and weathered patinas to create a sophisticated yet simple and warm environment.  “And fun! We want people to have fun with their homes. We want them to have fun with us,” she exclaimed. “I want people to feel like they got a hug when they visit here. Having a bad day? Shop here and you’ll laugh, you’ll be inspired, you can pet a dog and be happy,” she gushed while gesturing toward Pippa tucked away in her bed on the counter. Little Pippa presides over the shop, eager to meet a new friend and to greet an old one. People frequently pick her up, cuddling the affectionate little dog while they browse.

While Pippa clearly enjoys the attention, it seems her human friends gain something special from the interaction as well.  “People just love Pippa and you can tell it makes their day better having her here,” Polly said.

Pippa isn’t the only one to give special attention to customers. Watch Polly interact with customers for a few minutes and it is clear that she takes an interest in everyone who comes in. She knows their birthdays, the names of their pets and what they purchased last time. She inquires about a sick grandmother and about whether someone else is ready for their big move. She’s so friendly and engaging with everyone around her that the store takes on the atmosphere of a slumber party at times.

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“I guess I’m kind of a dreamer and have a bit of gypsy soul,” she said. “But in all my dreams, I never imagined it would become what it is today.”

The store that began as a tiny shop in 2012 continues to grow. Soon they will open Georgie Celebrates, a classroom space that will be available for rent for small parties. Polly expects the space to be available by spring.

Want to visit? George Emerson Vintage is located at 360 West Waterloo Street in Canal Winchester. They are open Thursday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Have questions?  Call 614.562.9938 or ask them on Facebook.  They go live on Facebook at least once a week and often post pictures and videos of new merchandise so be sure to follow them for the latest news!

Want to see more of the merchandise? Check out the slideshow below!

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Small Business Spotlight: Homegrown on Main

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

Step inside Homegrown on Main and it feels a little like coming home. First you notice the aroma of candles and homemade soaps. Then you spot the wood floors and character of a remodeled old building before your eyes focus on an array of finely crafted local items.

Once your eyes settle on the shelves of pottery, baskets of photos and artful displays of jewelry and wood items, it’s hard to look away.

This store on Logan’s Main Street is home to 53 artists and craftspeople who create unique works of art from their homes and studios around the Hocking Hills region. Store Manager Rose Arthur smiles as she discusses the merchandise they sell that cannot be found anywhere else. “I love that we have such a variety of high quality work,” she said. “These are things you cannot buy anywhere else.”

The variety of mediums represented here is impressive – woodworking, fused glass, painting, blown glass, drawing, photography, candle making, writing, leather work, jewelry, pottery, knitting, sewing, crochet, alcohol inks and paper goods can be found here, representing a range of tastes and prices.

They also sell items to help local organizations including Empty Bowls, the Washboard Festival, Hemlock Heroes, the Hocking County Historical and Genealogical Society and Logan in Bloom.

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“It’s a lot to look at and take in. I think you see something different every time you walk through, Rose said. “We have some regulars who come in just to see what’s new so the artists are often changing their inventory and trying new things.”

For example, painter Donna Voelkel was inspired by peers creating alcohol inks. With some research and practice, she has mastered innovative techniques for embellishing alcohol inks, creating something entirely fresh and new. At the age of 84, she is proving that it’s always a good time to do something innovative.

This storefront was actually born from the ashes of the region’s beloved Hocking Hills State Park Dining Lodge which was destroyed by fire in 2016. Members of the Hocking Hills Artists and Craftsmen Association sold their creations at the lodge.

In addition to losing their art to the fire, they lost retail space as well.

That’s when the group began devising a new plan with the help of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association, the local organization aimed at bringing tourism to the community. Efforts were already underway to revitalize downtown Logan and it made sense for the partnership to be part of the revival by opening a retail store here.

The rest, as they say, is history. Today the partnership has strengthened and the interest in locally made art and crafts is ever growing. They’ve grown so much, in fact, that they outgrew the original location and have moved to a spacious storefront just down the street.

76993332_1485807894920285_3474159901402464256_nThe store is a popular stop for visitors who are looking to take home a vacation memory. “When people travel they like to take home a piece of the experience. For some that’s a painting or woodworking. Many people are collecting Christmas ornaments from their travels and we have those too,” she said.

But Homegrown on Main has a large appeal among locals too. She said that some customers come in  just to see what the store is about only to find that it’s a great source for gifts, handmade greeting cards or even something special for themselves.  “Locals are really starting to catch on and we’re so glad to have people in our community come in too,” she said.

Rose pointed out that most of the art represented at Homegrown on Main comes from people who have full time careers or other barriers that prevent them from being a full time artist with a storefront of their own. Having everyone work together in this partnership has improved visibility for the local artists, writers and musicians represented here.  They also act as a visitor’s center, answering questions, giving directions and distributing local information and maps.

One unique quality of this store is that shoppers can sometimes meet the artists during demonstrations. “People love to meet the artists at work and maybe even buy something from an artist they met who showed them how they do their work,” she said.  Some of the artists even offer workshops in their respected areas including basket weaving, glass, painting, knitting, water colors and jewelry.

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Rose hopes to see lots of new and familiar faces at the Holiday Open House they are planning for December 7. It will be held from noon to 6 p.m. and will include snacks, a door prize drawing, demonstrations and music by The Grace Notes from 3:30 to 5 p.m. The Logan Christmas Parade will also be held at 2 p.m. that day, making it the perfect time to stop by for a visit and some locally made gifts!

While there, be sure to check out their new holiday window display designed by Marcia Meyers. The Logan resident is known for her lifelike sculptures and Rose is certain that Santa will be a part of the festive window planned for reveal the day after Thanksgiving. If you’re out shopping on Black Friday or Small Business Saturday, be sure to stop in to see the window and find that perfect gift you won’t see in any big box store!

Homegrown on Main welcomes shoppers at their new location at 65 West Main Street in Logan.  They are open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Follow them on Facebook for news and information including events like the Holiday Open House on December 7.

Small Business Spotlight: The WOLF Radio

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

 

In an age of online streaming and cookie cutter corporate owned radio stations, there’s a local radio station that continues to grow and thrive. WLOH, better known now as The WOLF, has carved out a   place in Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties with a unique sound and commitment to community caring.

Talk to owner Mark Bohach about this business plan and it’s quickly clear that it’s not about business at all. “We really do care about our community. It’s that simple. And that’s why everyone here is involved in boards and organizations,” he said as he began to name all the local organizations that he and the staff support. From the library board to Young Professionals of Lancaster to the YMCA and lots in between, Mark and his staff make it a priority to be involved.

The last few years have represented a period of tremendous growth for the station beginning with the switch from talk radio to a country format in 2015. Since then, they’ve rebranded the station The WOLF and added a tower in Perry County, expanding their services to an important but underserved community.

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Community involvement is integral to the success of The WOLF FM.

Being locally owned and operated, Mark calls the station “the anti-corporate media” with a chuckle. “We are the opposite of those big companies,” he said. “We play country music but we want to know what our listeners think. We support our community and the community supports us. That’s how it should be,” he said.

The casual listener would likely think the station sounds so professional and clear that it must be coming from a large market like Columbus rather than from a small studio on Lancaster’s Columbus Street. The sound quality is superb and local personalities give the station a professional but fun feel. Their bread and butter is classic and contemporary country music spanning sixty years. “We play both Georges,” he boasted. “Jones and Strait!”

They also air local, state and national news plus weather and sports. High school football and basketball are popular as well as Ohio State University, Cincinnati Bengals and Columbus Blue Jacket sports. They have five local DJs to keep things moving with a mix of talk about the music and good natured chatter. They also give priority to talking about events and issues important to the community. The Brownfield Ag Network provides farm news while the Nashville based Big D and Bubba in the Morning provide a popular syndicated radio show with plenty of room for the local news and weather listeners need.

Mark does on-air work, some ad sales and keeps the station’s technology current and running. His wife Arlene is the General Manager, running the front office and keeping the business end of things operating smoothly.

WLOH are the call letters but the brand is the WOLF. “We wanted to keep it simple and memorable. And it’s visual. You see it, you hear it. You know what it is,” Mark said. “The WOLF actually took off a lot faster than I expected. People were listening but they couldn’t remember our name. Now they know who we are.”

 

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He is conscious of what the future will bring. “We have to ask the question. What is our place in the 21st century media environment? We’ll be having a meeting with the key players here to talk about that,” he said. “After years of growth, we’ll be sitting down to take a breath and to discuss where we are going. How do we remain relevant to our listeners?”

“You can get country music anywhere but you don’t get the local community just anywhere. A lot of people think of radio as a technology. And it is a technology that we use to deliver a service. If we forget that we are a service, we are lost.”

The changing role of technology in this century hasn’t missed the radio world. Online streaming allows listeners all over the world to tune into their hometown radio station. He said they can see where listeners are located and they often seen Afghanistan and other countries with a U.S. military presence pop up during high school sporting events. “People can hear the hometown news and listen to the game from wherever they are in this country or across the world,” he said.

The technology here is impressive. The studio was designed and built by Mark and their work is computerized and largely automated. Satellite receivers feed in up to the minute news and weather. News breaks, songs and ads are scheduled to run and everything feeds seamlessly but can be overridden by a DJ. Weather emergencies and Amber Alerts are programmed to break into regular programming.

He said the staff of eight is cross trained so that no one has a specialty but everyone is able to do everything. “I am blessed. We have great people here.

“So many corporations use technology to save money. We spend money on technology to serve our listeners better.”

This service they provide extends into a host of areas. For example, Mark regularly interviews Meals on Wheels Executive Director Anna Tobin about their activities. They do live remotes at events like the fair and incorporate upcoming events into their conversations around the music.

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Sales Representative Rachel Jones

Sales Representative Rachel Jones joined the company a little over a year ago. Mark is teaching her the ropes of owning a radio station as her goal is to eventually own a station of her own. She talked about the station’s approach to advertising. “Every business is unique and we treat them that way. What works for a car lot won’t work for a radio station,” she said while describing how she creates unique commercials for each advertising customer to help them get the most bang for their advertising buck. “I talk to them about their goals and help them see the best way to go.”

“When we add a client, we want to keep them for life,” Mark added. “That means getting to know them and understanding them,” he said. The radio station does rely on the support of advertisers to keep the business successful.

While Mark and others in the company are contemplating the future, they are also deeply rooted in the past. The station began as an a.m. station in 1948 and Mark beautifully tells the story of how the station has evolved since that time. The walls are covered in vintage WLOH advertising, awards and pictures. The 1963 a.m. transmitter that powered the station from 1963 to 1990, no longer operational, remains part of the décor.

Mark is complimentary of his staff and community and is clearly proud of the work they do in Fairfield, Hocking and Perry counties. “It’s a fun business and we love what we do,” Mark said. “I’m just grateful we’re able to do it.

Tune into the Wolf at 104.5 FM Lancaster, 99.3 FM Logan and 102.9 FM New Lexington. You can also listen to live streaming online or using their mobile app on your device. Visit them online for more. 

They also welcome new advertisers. Find advertising and contact information by clicking here.

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Buff Lo Dip

Small businesses are important to communities and running a business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!

Ask Duane Boring to describe his product Buff Lo Dip and his eyes light up. “It has the taste of dipping buffalo chicken wings in ranch dressing, just minus the chicken,” he says with a smile.

DuaneGood served hot or cold, this locally made dip can be used on or with almost anything. In fact, he names a long list of items his customers use it on as a condiment including hamburgers, hot dogs, tacos, baked potatoes and sloppy joes to name a few. It’s also commonly used on pizza, as a dip for chips, chicken nuggets and vegetables. “People get pretty creative with it sometimes,” he said.

Buff Lo dip – and yes, that’s the spelling – buffalo without the ‘A’, was born out of necessity in Duane’s home kitchen. “Years ago, there was a fast food restaurant that offered a similar sauce for dipping their chicken nuggets. I loved that stuff and had it at least a couple of times a week but they discontinued it,” he explained.

Since no one was selling anything like it, he decided to make his own for dipping those fast food nuggets.  “No one was selling it so I got up one Saturday morning and started pulling things out of the cupboards. I started mixing things up and wrote down the measurements each time so I would remember how to repeat it. And you know something? What I came up with was better than what they had in the first place!”

When his family liked the product, he packaged up samples to take to church. “I went to church with bags of eight ounce sample cups for a couple of weeks and asked people to try it. After a while, people were meeting me at the door wanting more. They wanted it for all kinds of things. They were putting it on sandwiches, pizza, all kinds of things. I just made it for my chicken nuggets!”

jar.jpgWhen requests to purchase the dip started to come in, he knew he had something special. So he began the year and half long journey to start his business and to learn the legalities of producing, selling and distributing food.

When he rolled out his Buff Lo Dip at McArthur Super Valu on July 11, 2011, that first order of 234 jars sold out in two days.

Today he has his own kitchen facility and distributes in thirteen states, thanks to Rural King. But he has a stronghold in gas stations, local groceries and other stores throughout southeast Ohio, Cincinnati, Columbus, Kentucky and West Virginia.

The former insurance agent oversees all aspects of his family business including production, marketing and working with distributors. His company van now has over 300,000 miles on it as he crisscrosses the country introducing new audiences to Buff Lo Dip at expos, trade shows and events. From a chicken wing festival in Memphis to the Holiday Market in Cincinnati and hunting and fishing expos everywhere in between, it seems that Duane has left no rock unturned as he works to grow sales.

He credits the partnership with Rural King for helping the business grow into new markets including Florida, Tennessee, Alabama and Missouri. “It’s great when you’re working a show and you’re able to tell someone who just said they love your dip that they can buy it a Rural King in their own community,” he said.

They can also ship to anywhere in the United States.

However, Buff Lo Dip isn’t just about making money. He is all about giving back and offers a fundraising program for non-profits. One example of fundraising success is the work he does with Future Farmers of America (FFA).  “I like working with FFA and last year was our biggest fundraising year with them,” he said.

As he talks about the business, he shares a good bit of wisdom that can be applied, not just to business but to all aspects of life. “Listen to everyone’s advice and use some of it because everyone in the world will tell you what to do. You have to listen, decipher and take from it what will work for you.”

He has another sound piece of advice regarding getting what you want. “My son has asked how I keep getting into different stores. I tell him that I walk in with a jar of dip, a business card and a smile on my face. What do I have to lose by asking? If I don’t ask, the answer will always be no. Why not give it a shot? The worst that will happen is they’ll keep my sample jar and not order anything,” he said.

The Vinton County native said that his wife Trish and three kids Zac, Levi and Amanda have been supportive of the business and all have played different roles in making it successful. “It’s not a huge company. We’re not millionaires or anything like that but I like what I’m doing and that’s more important than making a lot of money at a job you hate.”

Find Buff Lo Dip in a store near you with their location finder or just visit their website to learn more about the company.

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