Small Business Spotlight: Raccoon Creek Outfitters

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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Small business owners tend to be passionate about their work. Even so, it’s hard to match the enthusiasm and pure joy of Bobbi Hoy when she talks about Raccoon Creek Outfitters, the Vinton County business she and husband Dustin started together.

What began as a dream is now in its third season and growing every year. “People thought we were crazy when we opened. We started in April 2017 with 28 canoes and eighteen kayaks. Now, we’re in our third season and have 106 boats. There are times we have them all out on the water at once,” Bobbi said. “It’s amazing how much we’ve grown.”

2.jpgRaccoon Creek Outfitters does it all.  They offer kayak and canoe rentals, a store and campground. They even offer their grounds for event rental.

The livery offers canoe and kayak rentals for five and seven mile routes, giving customers everything they need for a leisurely trip down the Raccoon. “This is a good creek to start on. It’s not fast moving water so you can go at your own pace,” she said. “One thing that makes it a little different is that we left the tree tops. That means it’s not just a lazy river. You have to paddle, to steer, and that makes a more enjoyable experience.”

All skill levels are welcome at Raccoon Creek Outfitters but they are pleased to introduce their passion to the beginner. “It’s ok if you’ve never even held a paddle before. We’ll take you out to the landing, show you some techniques and let you practice before we send you out,” she said.

3With 34 acres situated along the peaceful shores of Raccoon Creek in eastern Vinton County, it’s an ideal place to camp. Primitive campsites are available along the creek banks while RV sites with electric hookup are available as well.

A shelter house and large kitchen are available to rent for events such as reunions, parties and festivals.

Plus, the store offers a large variety of Bonafide and NuCanoe kayaks, life jackets, fishing gear and other supplies. They also sell Bending Branches Paddles, Yak Attack gear, Anchor Wizard anchoring systems and Venom Lures.

But the Raccoon Creek story isn’t really about the boats and other tangibles the business offers. It’s actually about the people and the exploration of the natural world they encourage here.  “We say that you may come here as a stranger but you will leave as family because if you’re a friend of ours, you are family,” Bobbi explained.

Their sense of friendship and family extends to their team as well. “We don’t have employees or staff. We are a team here and everyone is valuable to the team,” she said. “My husband and I always had jobs where we worked for someone else so we know how important it is to feel valued. That’s why everyone has a say and that’s part of the reason everyone loves coming to work.”

boat 1.jpgDustin Hoy worked for and managed another canoe livery for several years, learning the ropes in hopes of someday pursuing his dream to own his own livery. “Dustin is the backbone. He’s knowledgeable in every aspect of the boats and, if he doesn’t know it, he’ll learn. It’s his passion, his dream, and I’m lucky enough to be living it with him,” she said with a smile.

It is a family affair as Bobbi’s brother manages the business while her two kids help out as well. “Family is everything to us and we are proud to have our family working with us and cheering us on,” she said. “We wouldn’t be here if not for Dustin’s mom (Arretha Hoy) who helped us get this place and for so many others who have helped us along the way. If it wasn’t for them we wouldn’t be here.”

She also credits those who help to promote the business every chance they get. For example, her sister Adeanna Chandler was the first customer they put on the water and one of their biggest fans. “She has a stack of business cards and she gives them to everyone she sees. She advocates for us in so many ways and my appreciation for her is big to say the least. My parents Dean and Carol Chandler, also tell everyone about us. It means the world when people have your back!”

The Raccoon Creek Outfitters team consists of Mark Chandler, Rose Chandler, Cecilia Chandler, Bret Chumley, Brett Coleman, Justin Turner, Clinton Lester, Tessa Hoy, Alina Hoy, Okey Fitzwater and Arretha Hoy. They also credit their Pro Staff Team of Matt Davis, Reed Carpenter, Michael Jennings and John Shef.

When talking about the people who have made a difference, she mentioned several customers who have supported the company from the beginning including one family from Canada that comes every year as well as locals who come as often as they can.

“We are truly blessed. Life is so short, you have to learn to appreciate the little things and the wonderful people who surround you. Blessings come in all forms and we are overwhelmingly blessed,” she said.

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The company makes an effort to go the extra mile and to give back for all the good fortune they have enjoyed. From serving breakfast to campers every morning to free movie nights to helping out with community events, Bobbi said that her team enjoys staying busy and being involved.

They also offer a number of discounts including a ten percent discount for paddling their vessels to current military, veterans, nurses, law enforcement officers, EMTs, firefighters and teachers. Discount rates are available for 4-H clubs and large groups too.

Free Movie Friday is open to the public. Movies are family friendly and usually start around 9 p.m. every Friday from Memorial Day to Labor Day, weather dependent. Both visitors and the community are welcome to bring a chair and snack to enjoy this free event.

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Conveniently located near Lake Hope State Park, Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable and Dance Barn and the Moonville Tunnel, the staff encourages customers to take advantage of other activities in the area. It’s also just a short drive to the Hocking Hills State Park and to Ohio University in nearby Athens. “Whatever people are doing, we just want to help them get outside and to enjoy nature,” she explained.

Visitors will hear countless species of birds as well as frogs, whippoorwill and the gentle splash of an occasional fish jumping in the water. “There’s nothing like floating. I love being on the water. It’s so peaceful to hear the birds and the wind in the trees and to just become one with the water. I sound like such a hippie,” she exclaimed.

Visit their website or follow them on Facebook to keep up with upcoming events like Capsize Cancer and many others.

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria

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 Tamie Wallake to talk about her business The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria and you might expect her to tell you about the delicious food they make with fresh ingredients. You might expect her to brag about how they’re able to prepare fresh subs, custom pizzas and salads in a matter of minutes. You might expect her to mention the relaxing atmosphere and the coffee shop that invites customers to stay.

If that’s what you expect from a conversation with Tamie, you would be wrong.

Instead, her eyes sparkle and her demeanor brightens as she discusses how she and her husband Bryan use this business to help people who need a second chance. The Olive Branch helps people who are recovering from tough breaks and poor life choices that may have resulted in addiction, homelessness or crime.

The story of how this business came to be and of its place in Canal Winchester is actually quite complex and one that is rooted in faith and service to community. Bryan is a real estate broker and Tamie is a former realtor. Together, the pair have a history of building and selling businesses that fill a need,  including a golf course, a fitness center, and a construction company. “We have a talent for building businesses but not an eye for growing them. So, after selling the golf course we were looking for a new project.  I felt like God wanted me to do a daycare,” she explained.

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That’s why they opened Heaven Sent Children’s Academy which employs 35 teachers to care for 200 children. Empty acreage next door to the daycare was beckoning to be filled but the pair weren’t certain what business they should pursue next.

When Bryan came home and announced he wanted to open a pizza shop, she said her reaction was not initially supportive. “What do we know about making pizzas? I thought he was crazy,” she laughed. “But then I started thinking about the good we could do and how we could help people who are struggling because they made bad choices at some point in their lives.”

Those people who are struggling often slip through the cracks, becoming a statistic or sometimes a story on the evening news. But through the daycare, through her sister who is a foster parent, and through the couple’s nonprofit organization called Breaking Chains, she saw firsthand the dire need that many members of the community suffered with every day.

She tells some of those stories – not of statistics – but of real people who couldn’t get ahead even when they tried and who needed a second chance to start their lives anew.

She speaks of a young man who was homeless and who had a felony conviction. A hard worker that no one would hire because of the conviction, he had nowhere to live and a newborn baby. So Tamie and Bryan stepped up to help the young family and learned why it is so easy for people like him to be forgotten. “He was really trying but couldn’t get a job, couldn’t get a place to live because of bad choices he made years before. It’s no wonder people struggle when they can’t get a second chance,” she said.

“I realized I could use this business to help people like him. So I agreed to make pizzas if we could use it to help others and to give back,” she said. Consequently, they donate monthly to two charities including Breaking Chains which assists people coming out of homelessness and drug addiction.

But Tamie and Bryan didn’t want to just make pizzas. They wanted to make excellent pizza with fresh ingredients, quick service and the best customer service in town. They first attended pizza school at Good Fellas in Staten Island, New York. Good Fellas is renowned in the pizza industry for making some of the world’s best pizzas. They teach their students to use the best ingredients to make their dough and sauce from scratch.

Customers can watch their dough pressed and the pizza made before their eyes. It’s slid into a brick oven and baked for 2.5 minutes before coming out piping hot and ready to enjoy.

Signature pizzas include a BBQ Chicken Pizza with sweet bbq sauce, mozzarella/ provolone mix and cheddar cheeses plus chicken, bacon and onion. Diners can also choose from a host of meats, vegetables and cheeses as well as eight sauces to make their own custom pizza. Plus they offer signature subs and salads as well. Vegan and gluten free customers will have no trouble finding delicious options on the menu. They even offer a cauliflower crust.

Many of their ingredients come from a community garden behind the restaurant. Daycare children from Heaven Sent help tend the garden, learning about the how food grows and the importance of worms. “These are city kids and they have a chance to learn about growing food. Plus, what we don’t use here is donated to Heaven Sent so nothing is wasted,” she said.

Open the door to the Olive Branch and you are immediately hit with the divine smell of baking pizzas and melted cheese. The next thing you’ll notice is how prompt, courteous and helpful the staff are at all times. “We focus on customer service. We want the customer to be number one and we want the product to be excellent. We’ve worked to give them a sense of ownership and we are always working on customer service skills. Honestly, we have the cream of the crop here, a great group of kids,” she said of their staff of twenty.

“We are careful not to have too many second chancers here at one time,” she said as she explained how the ownership employees feel in their work extends to helping newcomers learn the Olive Branch way.

In addition, the business offers a coffee shop which serves One Line Coffee, a Columbus business that roasts coffee fresh when it is ordered. They actually offer more flavors than national chain coffee shops and have a peaceful atmosphere for conversation, meetings and quiet reflection. Smoothies, hot chocolate, espresso and frapuccino are a few menu items. Plus there are muffins, homemade cinnamon rolls, breakfast pizza and burritos. Homemade donuts are available Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

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Comfy chairs welcome customers to the coffee shop.

The business has a distinct area for the pizza restaurant, a quiet area complete with a fireplace for the coffee shop as well as party space for bridal showers, Bible studies and birthday parties. “We literally offer the best of both worlds. We have fast, courteous service but we also have good quality ingredients, good food and a pleasant dining experience,” she said.

With the business approaching its two year anniversary, Tamie and Bryan have one eye on semi-retirement. “We understand that we are good at building businesses but we’re not so good at taking them to the next level and growing them,” she admitted.

That’s why they have engaged their grown sons to take over the Olive Branch. Braden will take over the marketing and Jeff will manage the daily operations. “Jeff has the mindset and the ability to take us to the next level and to do things here, to do things with people that I could never do,” she explained. “I’m at peace with stepping away from the daily work and trusting it with him. And I just know it’s going to be a real blessing for him and for others.”

Tamie and Bryan will take a break to rest before deciding their next move. She looks forward to finding greater balance in her life and to enjoying some freedoms that are hard to achieve when running a business every day. But she remains passionate about the message on their shirts – “It’s not just about the dough. Pizza with a purpose.”

She clearly is devoted to helping people by filling needs in the community and through addressing specialized needs that impact individuals and families. “Being able to do this has been a true blessing for us. Being able to take a break and to come back having found some balance, I think we’ll love it more,” she said with a smile.

The Olive Branch Coffee and Pizzeria is located at 5600 Gender Road in Canal Winchester. Dine in, carry out, request delivery or arrange curbside pickup. Order online, follow them on Facebook or call 614.524.6888.

 

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio

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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Bernie Evans talks about the work needed to repair this church window in his workshop at Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio.

To the casual observer, a piece of stained glass art is just that – a pretty piece of art. But talk to Bernie Evans and you’ll quickly learn that working with stained glass involves a logical process that requires patience and problem solving skills as well as artistic ability.

Bernie is the mild mannered owner of Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio in downtown Chillicothe. The studio is a resource for all things stained glass including the tools and supplies for creating glass art, classes and workshops to learn the process, restoration and repair services for older panels, lampshades, and the creation of unique stained glass pieces for purchase. The walls of the retail space are lined with sheets of stained glass in nearly every color imaginable and the store features locally made stained glass pieces – both large and small.

What is surprising is that the business started out as just a hobby. Bernie explained that he had some health issues that put him off work from the paper mill in 2005. “I needed something to keep myself from going crazy and I just started playing with it,” he said.

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Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio features a number of locally created pieces that are for sale.

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This dimensional guitar lamp was designed by Bernie. He donated one like it to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold for $5,000 and was donated back the following year by the winner. It sold again for $7,000 that year.

After returning to work for several months, Bernie decided it was time for a change so he retired from his job and started the business from his home. He eventually moved into a small retail space in downtown. The business is now in the old Oddfellows Lodge on Paint Street, providing about 14,000 square feet of space as opposed to the 1,400 square feet available in his first storefront.

When asked how he learned the art, he said he is completely self-taught. “One of the things I got from my grandpa is my ability to pick things up pretty easily, to be able to learn on my own,” he said.

Employee Pam Hatton was cleaning a stained glass lamp when she chimed into the conversation. “His problem solving is incredible! Ingenuity is the word that comes to mind. If he can’t find the tool he needs, he makes it. And he can make or fix anything,” she praised.

He says that practice and patience are key to working with stained glass. “Practice and patience. Patience and practice. Students always want it to be perfect the first time and it just doesn’t work that way. It takes time to learn, practice to be perfect and you never stop learning,” he said.

He teaches the art in classes, workshops and other group settings that cover introductory to advanced techniques. His Introductory Class teaches the basics of the copper foil method of stained glass construction. Students will also learn about safety in glasswork, how to work with patterns, how to cut glass, grind, foil and solder. This class is typically held the first and second Saturday of each month from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and is limited to six students.

Another popular class, the Lead Came Class is more advanced and teaches students how to construct panels with strips of lead came. This class is scheduled when there are enough interested students.

They also offer a class that teaches more advanced students to work dimensionally by building their own jewelry box or lamp shade. In addition, they welcome groups and parties for fused glass workshops.

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This piece is a Bernie Evans original.

Pam, now retired from the VA, came to Bernie and Max as a student.  “That was about six or seven years ago and I just never left,” she laughed. Now she works a few days a week, creating lovely pieces that are sold in the store.

Larger pieces can be created for residential, church or commercial clients. For example, windows of all sizes, kitchen cabinet doors, lamps and wall hangings are commonly created here.

As much as Bernie loves talking about stained glass and the education the studio provides, his eyes light up when discussing the restoration and repair services they provide. He seems most at home in his basement workshop where workbenches are covered in hundreds of multicolored tiles related to his current project – the restoration of a chapel window for Chillicothe Correctional Institution.

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Bernie demonstrates the restoration process on part of a stained glass window from a chapel at Chillicothe Correctional Institute.

Each restoration piece is brought into the workshop where it is documented and rubbings are made before the piece is taken apart, the lead is removed, the glass is cleaned and it is put back together again using appropriate restoration lead.

Each case is unique. For the CCI project, Bernie had to design and fabricate special metal frames for each large section of the 26 foot tall, twelve foot wide window. “We never shy away from a challenge,” he acknowledged. “I like working on the old stuff. I like getting my hands on something that’s 150 or 175 years old,” he said with reverence.

That thought led Bernie to discuss the abundance of stained glass windows that have been damaged by the very methods employed to protect them. He talked about efforts taken in the last fifty years to protect the windows from acid rain, vandals and other threats by covering them with panes of glass or plexiglass. Unfortunately, when the sun shines directly on these windows, the air space is heated to a high temperature and the lead used to construct the windows is softened. “They thought they were doing good but, to do this properly, you need ventilation at the top and bottom to allow for air circulation. Now we are facing the consequences of these well intentioned actions,” Bernie explained.

While there are stained glass studios like his in Ohio’s cities, it’s uncommon to find this specialty in a small town. “There are very few that do this kind of work so we get a lot from outside the area. Columbus and Cincinnati have studios but there’s no one else left in southern Ohio.”

He credits his mother Mary Lou for her involvement in the studio from the very beginning. “She got involved and was an integral part of the studio.  She was here every day, making stuff until the age of 85,” when she passed away Bernie recalled. “We still have a few of her pieces here,” he explained as he pointed to the corner that was her workstation and where some of her last pieces she made still hang and will never be sold.

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Bruno is the store’s mascot, watchdog and host. Some customers pop in just to visit with him.

The other important character in the studio is a six year-old Pug named Bruno who is sort of the store’s mascot, watchdog and host rolled into one. Bruno comes running when customers pop in and ask for him, basking in the glow of attention. Bruno is clearly the apple of Bernie’s eye as the little dog provides both comic relief and companionship throughout the day.

Bernie is reluctant to share about the good things he does for the community but it is clear that the East End native and retired firefighter/EMT loves his town. He speaks fondly of a three dimensional guitar lamp that he donated to Rock For Tots several years ago. It sold at auction for $5,000. The next year, the buyer donated it back to the auction and it sold for another $7,000. “I just couldn’t believe how much it sold for and that it sold for even more the next year,” he recalled with a hint of pride in his voice.

After chatting about the ins and outs of the business, its origins, the cast of characters that come through the door and modern threats to antique stained glass, there was just one topic left to cover.

Who is the Max in the studio’s name?

Bernie chuckled at this question. “Max was my first pacer defibrillator,” he said, explaining that it’s official model name was Medtronic Maximo but Max for short. “The reason I was off work to take up stained glass in the first place was my health. I literally couldn’t have done it without Max,” he grinned.

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Bernie and Max Stained Glass Studio is located at 65 N. Paint Street in Chillicothe. Stop by or call them at 740.775.1054. Click here to visit them online or to follow them on Facebook.

They are open Tuesday through Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Donut World

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!

50755929_534720143701097_998579857665294336_nwhite donutsBill Miller doesn’t know what he would be doing if not for making donuts. That’s because he’s been in the donut business since his very first high school job at Jolly Pirate Donuts in Lancaster. For the last thirty years, he and his wife Cheryl have owned Donut World, a Lancaster landmark known for the best donuts in town.

A graduate of Berne-Union High School, Bill started working at Jolly Pirate doing clean-up work. “I started out with the most entry level job you could do there and worked up to night shift manager,” he said.

Bill and Cheryl opened their first shop in Logan in 1989 where they operated successfully until moving to Lancaster in 1993. Located at the corner of N. Broad Street and Sixth Street, the shop is just a few blocks off of Memorial Drive.

The delicious aroma of donuts permeates the neighborhood as one car after another lines up to order. Many are regulars who need only to pull up and wait for their favorite treat to be boxed and passed out the window. Others take their time selecting just the right donut.

People from the neighborhood walk in to pick up breakfast. A youngster with a clean report from the dentist next door comes in with a coupon to claim his rewards for taking care of his teeth. His dad requests a cherry turnover and the pair leave happy.

And this goes on all morning long.

The staff is friendly and cheerful, always glad to help the next person at the window. Some are family while others have been with the shop for many years. They even still have the first employee they hired in Logan in 1989. Bill and Cheryl’s daughter Heather works at the shop now but was just a little girl when she named it Donut World from the back seat of the family car. Together, they all seem to share the bonds that come from working in close quarters for a long time.

Group.jpgTheir variety of donuts is exceptional and includes over 50 kinds, including some seasonal favorites like pumpkin and cherry. “We tend to focus on the most popular and on the things people love the very best,” Bill said as he began naming customer favorites like chocolate iced vanilla, devil’s food, chocolate bismarks, apple fritters and cinnamon rolls. Still the runaway favorite here is good old fashioned glazed donuts. “People never get tired of our glazed donuts,” he said.

They do take requests and he said they are always open to new things if they think there’s a market.

The shop has a large following, not just in Fairfield County but across the region and beyond. “We have customers come up from Logan and Vinton County, from Columbus, Buckeye Lake –really from all over the area,” he said before going on to talk about those who come from much further away.

“We have a lot of customers who stop by when they come to visit family in town. They’ll come in from out-of-state, go see the family and then come straight here. We have people who say they wish we were wherever they live.”

Bill gives credit to many other people for his own successes. He speaks fondly of a friend in the donut business who encouraged him to open his own shop and then helped him get started. He smiles at the memory of an old friend, now deceased, who drew up the Donut Man character when Donut World was still just a dream in a young man’s mind. Donut Man still presides over the shop, looking down from the sign out front.

Bill credits his family for their hard work too. Cheryl does their books. His daughter, sons, grandsons, sister-in-law and mother either work in the shop now or have helped out over the years.

Most of all, he’s grateful to his parents and to his uncle who taught him work ethic, self-sufficiency and saving money.  “They taught me to be smart about saving, about growing food and preserving it, about building houses and taking care of things. I owe a lot to my mom and dad. I had the greatest parents you would ever want to have,” he said. “They taught me to be careful with money, to be reasonable and to always be fair.”

Then there are the people he’s met because of his line of work. “I’ve learned a lot from a lot of different people. When I worked nights at Jolly Pirate I would talk to older customers and to the night shift cops.  You can learn so much just from talking to people,” he pointed out.

Life, he said, hasn’t always been easy. “Especially in the beginning, in the early days in Logan, I worked eighteen to twenty hours a day for the first few years.”  Now he has a good staff in place and the time to enjoy some of his hobbies and pursuits. He especially enjoys big game hunting and trips on his motorcycle.

A lot of people don’t know Bill by name but they do know his business. “I see people everywhere I go and they just call me the ‘donut man’ and I think that’s pretty great. Everything I have is because of donuts so I’m always happy to stop and talk to my customers.”

51188981_382350412577202_6012871888466870272_nDonut World is one of the top ranked donut shops in Ohio and was the Best Bakery in Fairfield County in 2016 and 2017, according to the readers of the Lancaster Eagle Gazette.  They have a five star rating on Yelp and have a large following on Facebook too.

In addition to selling donuts by the single or by the dozen, they provide larger orders to local churches, schools and organizations. They also do close to fifty weddings per year, enjoying an ever growing trend to serve donuts in lieu of a wedding cake.

Donut World is located at 601 N. Broad St., in Lancaster.  Stop by or call them at 740.653.4888 to place your special order.  You can also follow them on Facebook.  Donut World is open 24-hours a day, closing only for Christmas morning. They recently began accepting plastic in addition to cash.

Small Business Spotlight: Spring Street Sports

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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When John McGee opened his business it was because he wanted to fill a need in his community. Since then, the Spring Street Sports owner has built a successful business but seems most interested in chasing a passion to help local kids.

Spring Street Sports started life when John realized there was no place in Vinton County to buy a Viking t-shirt or to have a trophy made. “My wife and I were going to see the boys basketball team in the playoffs at the Convo and I mentioned needing to get a shirt to wear. She said we’d have to go to Wellston to buy one and that just didn’t make sense to me,” he said. “Why would we leave our community to buy a Vinton County shirt?”

In 2006, they converted a small apartment on Spring Street in McArthur and started making shirts and trophies. With enthusiastic community support, they added embroidery services and tanning as well as other products.

It wasn’t long before they needed more space and McGee said they wanted to have a larger retail space. In 2016 the opportunity presented itself to move into a retail space in downtown McArthur. Here shoppers can pick up items that are ready for purchase as well as see sample merchandise and place custom orders.

McGee enthusiastically attends the games, sponsors events and does his best to help Vinton County kids and adults wear their Viking pride. “That’s why we’re here. Our kids are our future so we want to support them and we want them to know how proud their community is of them,” he said.

IMG_7704IMG_7736But their line of products isn’t limited to Viking apparel. They also provide things like embroidered jackets for construction companies and uniforms for businesses.

They offer some more unusual products too. “I try to offer unique things that you can’t find anywhere else around,” he said. For example, Spring Street is an authorized dealer for Green Mountain Smokers, wood pellet smoker grills that can also be used like a regular grill and that can be controlled with an app. With a 150 degree to 500 degree temperature range, it can be used to cook meats as well for baked goods and essentially anything else the backyard chef might want to cook.

Rocker chairs for camping and events, insulated cups, stadium chairs and Bison Coolers are also available here. Plus, they do year round tuxedo rentals. Signs, billboards, car magnets and digitally printed signage are also available.

Trophies and plaques continue to be popular as well.

He praised longtime employee Kelli Ousley as well as niece Kacy Petty who manages the store. “Kacy does a great job keeping everything running for me. It can be pretty fast paced and stressful in here and she does a good job keeping a handle on things,” he said.

Several brand options are available in custom hats, t-shirts, sweatshirts and jackets. Nike and Richardson are the most popular brand of caps. Popular apparel brands include J America, Holloway, Nike Golf, Gildan and Jerzees. These are available with embroidery, screen printing and several colors of vinyl.

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The store works with teams and organizations for fundraisers. “Everyone likes t-shirts so they make a great fundraiser,” he explained.

He gets the store involved in a number of other ways. They sponsor tailgating for home football games complete with sliders and other food. They also honor a football player with a Hit of the Week award and a band member with a Musician of the Week award. This year the store is sponsoring the Vinton County Prosecutor’s Driven to Succeed Program.

“In small communities, sports programs and school activities are what we do on the weekends and weeknights,” he said with sincerity. “Everything revolves around the schools and I think it’s important to be present and to support the kids and schools. We’re investing in the future when we support the kids.”

Spring Street Sports is located at 200 W. Main St., McArthur and they are open Monday through Friday 10 a.m to 7 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to noon.  Call 740.596.8337 or follow them on Facebook.

 

Small Business Spotlight: BBB Music Center

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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In an age when many specialty stores are going the way of the rotary telephone, downtown Chillicothe continues to support a number of specialty stores. One of the more unique of these is BBB Music Center, a locally owned store that specializes in all things related to musical instruments and sound equipment.

Owner Bob Green said the Water Street store really is a center for the community.  “We’re not here to serve ourselves, we’re here to serve our community,” Green said. “We think it’s still important to have a local music store in town, one that’s friendly to customers and that gives them the services they need.”

Bob Green.JPGBob is an Air Force veteran and family man who has made a point to include family, friends and the entire community in the store. “A lot of my family helps out and I like to get the grandkids in here to teach them some work ethic. They all know how to run the cash register and some of them can tune a drum or a guitar. Some can set up sound systems.” Bob explained as he named each of his children, sons-in-law and grandchildren who help out. One of Bob’s daughters, Sarah Lambert, has been helping customers since he opened shop.

The story of BBB Music Center dates back to 2005 when Bob was trying to purchase a guitar from another area music store. Their look-but-don’t-touch policy meant that he couldn’t try out the instrument he liked before buying it. “I just didn’t understand how you could buy something like that without trying it first. You buy a car, you drive it first. You buy a guitar, you need to know how it feels and what it sounds like,” he explained.

Shortly after, he began selling bluegrass instruments at area festivals and events but it soon became evident that he needed a storefront. The store began life as Bob’s Banjo Barn and has been in a few places around town. Today they are on Water Street and the name shortened to BBB Music Center to reflect the wide variety of merchandise they carry.

In addition to stringed instruments, they sell band instruments and supplies, drum sets, keyboards, amplifiers, sounds systems and all the connectors, cables, power supplies, reeds, strings, neck straps, music books, tuners, cases and cleaning supplies you might need. They offer a wide selection of new and used guitars, banjos, mandolins, violins and strumsticks.

“We look for well-made instruments because we want to sell quality stuff for less money. It’s that simple,” Bob explained. He also is insistent that it’s important to sell customers the right instrument. “We fit people with instruments. They may not realize that a guitar may be too big or too small. We don’t want to see you waste your money. We’d rather help you find the right instrument that could last you a lifetime.”

On top of all that, they do cleaning, repair and restoration for all instruments as well as for sound systems and other musical electronics. In addition, they do warranty repair for certain brands of instruments. “We have experienced people who know what they’re doing and who I trust to do good work for our customers,” Bob continued. “Sometimes an instrument just needs cleaned, adjusted, tuned, or maybe a new set of strings. We can do all that and more.”

They also offer space for instruction. They have classroom space where independent teachers provide lessons for instruments including stringed instruments, keyboard and drums.  Each instrument purchased here comes with a free lesson. Also, it is possible to take lessons through an instructor here without actually owning the instrument but by using one at the store.

instruments and books.JPGBob is cognizant of the need to be competitive in an increasingly online world, working hard to keep prices competitive and to offer those personalized services that online sellers cannot. In fact, many customers come in for help setting up a new instrument they purchased online or to repair one damaged in shipping. “A lot of people buy online without knowing if it’s right for them and without realizing there is work to be done to make a new instrument playable,” he said.

Plus, if they do not carry what you need, they are pleased to order it for you.

They also provide set up and service for sounds systems. “Sometimes a church will call with a problem with their sound system or a microphone or keyboard and we’ll go right over. We know how important it is to have someone to rely on when you’re having a problem.”

Bob also keeps the store active in the community and is complimentary of many other downtown merchants. For example, the store accepts donated instruments which they clean and repair before donating to veterans through the VA Hospital. Churches, veterans and Kenworth employees all receive a ten percent discount.

giftEvery Saturday morning, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., a group of locals stop by to jam, playing gospel, folk and bluegrass music in a room at the back of the store. Everyone is welcome and there is no limitation on age or experience – one regular participant is ninety. “Whoever can come just shows up. We’ve seen friendships develop and bands form just from playing in the back room,” he said. Bob hopes to soon offer the jam room to younger artists on Saturdays from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

The beautiful thing about this line of work is that music appeals to everyone. “It’s a love, really. There’s nothing like picking up a guitar, closing your eyes and playing. It’s not a man’s world. It’s anybody’s world here. From six to ninety, we serve everyone,” he said.

The store’s customers come from all walks of life and from all over. Bob said that a number of their customers come from West Virginia, Kentucky and from all over Ohio. “We have customers come down from Columbus because the stores up there don’t carry what they need and they don’t offer the service we do” he said.

This store clearly is a passion and a labor of love for Bob. “Come in as a customer and leave as a friend. That’s what we want here,” he said. “Come in and ask questions, try the instruments, be sure about what you’re buying. That’s what we want and we’ll do our best for you.”

BBB Music Center is located at 20 East Water Street. With street parking available in front and in a public lot across the street, it is easy to park and visit them during business hours 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Call them at 740.772.2262, visit them online or follow them on Facebook.

See more images of the store in the slideshow below.

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Small Business Spotlight: Sudslingers Laudromat

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

Mark Erslan, Todd Wesaw (Sudslingers), Nicole Scott

Sudslingers Laundromat owner Todd Wesaw is pictured at center with VCNB Head of Lending Mark Erslan and Bremen Branch Manager Nicole Scott. 

For our Small Business Spotlight this month we’re doing a Q&A with Todd Wesaw of Sudslingers Laundromat, Bremen’s newest business! Read on to learn more about the exciting and unexpected things happening at Sudslingers!

VCNB:  Hi Todd!  When sifting through ideas for our September entry in our Business Spotlight Series, our Bremen Branch Manager Nicole Scott suggested we talk to you about Sudslingers Laundromat.  After discussing how exciting it is that a new business has entered the market in the small Village of Bremen, we thought this would be a great feature.  So, that said, why don’t you give me a little background on how Sudslingers came to be? And why Bremen, Ohio?

Todd: As a resident of Bremen since 2005 and a current Village Councilman it’s my job to look at ways of growing our community and expanding resources for our fellow residents. I am always looking for opportunities to bring new business to our Village so I decided to take the leap.  When I encourage new companies to consider Bremen as their location, I felt it would hold more water if my own business was located there.

When I decided to start Sudslingers Laundromat, I considered the population as well as the residents that may rent in the area and not have access to washers and dryers.  Plus the fact that is has been approximately twelve years since there was a Laundromat in Bremen.  Residents were having to travel to surrounding towns, so why not have a local Laundromat that is convenient and here in the Village open daily 8 a.m.-9 p.m.?

The idea was to start Sudslingers Laundromat here close to my home so I could educate myself about the business and hopefully grow into a chain of them with the same concept. As I started my research to determine my offerings, size, location, layout etc., my friend Kevin Newman asked if he could get involved. Since I have other businesses and am holding a Council position, I thought that it would be good to have a partner that could help share the responsibilities, so our partnership came together. Kevin is a truck driver over the road so, with his schedule, it works out that we share opening/closing and daily maintenance.

After putting all the ideas together, the build-out began. I wanted it to be big enough but not too big for this area so I decided to start out with six washers and six dryers. I chose machines that could fit into the budget I had available but could accommodate more than one load of laundry.  After all the planning and testing, we decided to open May 1, 2018.

VCNB:  It sounds like you had a good handle on the business before it ever came to be because of the work you put in beforehand.  Give us a rundown on the business itself – one may hear “Laundromat” and have an image in their head of what they think it is, but we can tell that you are really breaking the old model of this type of business.

Todd: I did not want a typical laundromat like the ones I grew up seeing or using while in college, where you dreaded the laundry piling up only to go to the bank to get change, arrive and sit and be bored for hours, waiting for my chance to start laundry at a dreary and, most of the time, dirty place to the point you felt you needed a tetanus shot after you left!

As part of my planning process, I decided I wanted a place that is inviting, family oriented and, as some of our guests say, “A place to go and get away from the home and relax.” So I decided to build an environment that offers modern conveniences such as climate controlled air, black stainless LG high efficiency/low energy washers and dryers, LED lighting with multiple colors, etc. The floors are exposed concrete and we’ve got exposed lighting, distressed woodwork, a ceiling fan, wrought iron seating tables and chairs, folding tables, and a flat screen TV with cable.  We’ve even got a backyard area with picnic table.  We have a bill coin changer that accepts ones and five dollar bills in-house and we recently added free WiFi for our guests.  They will soon be able to use the WiFi features that our washers and dryers are equipped with!  Guests will be able to download an app to monitor their laundry, which gives them the freedom to enjoy the seating or picnic area, or just leave and comeback as their laundry is complete.

Our walls are decorated in historic images of Bremen and some entertaining signs. We also offer a restroom that is ADA compliant.

The washers start out at $5.00 per load, depending on the size, and that price includes free drying. If you choose to wash at home or elsewhere, we recently added a Dryer Deposit Box for our guests that just need drying for $2.50 per dryer. We currently don’t offer soap and bleach products, however we are planning to add a vending machine that will have these products.  We’d also like to add a beverage machine as the business grows. We do offer pick up and drop off service by appointment only or you can schedule us to come to you and we will do your laundry for you.  These services are at an additional cost and prices vary.

VCNB:  It’s definitely a clean, modern, and well-kept facility and an asset to Bremen.  Do you have any big plans for Sudslingers in 2019?

Todd: Our goals for the future include adding highly visible signage, vending machines, and additional equipment. We’ll be joining the Bremen Area Chamber of Commerce and possibly even adding one to two new locations.

 

VCNB:  We’ll be keeping an eye on it!  We’re always thrilled to see new, thriving businesses in our market areas and we are thrilled when they choose to bank with VCNB.  We thank you for your business, Todd, and wish all the best to Sudslingers!  Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Todd: Thank you VCNB for the opportunity to share information about Sudslingers Laundromat with you and your other banking customers, and helping us bring Sudslingers Laundromat to Bremen!

We are proud to be a doing business with VCNB and Friendly Bremen Banking Center.  I would also like to personally thank Nicole Scott, Mark Erslan, Kathryn Cooper, and all of the staff and to you for featuring Sudslingers Laundromat for your September Business Spotlight.

Please like us on Facebook and check us out on Google. We are always updating the latest information about Sudslingers Laundromat and have it available at both of these online resources. Come check us out to see why we offer “Loads of Fun” and if you are a regular guest, please hurry back!

We will announce our grand opening in the near future.

 

 

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: Wellston Flowerland

Small businesses are important to communities and running a small business is tough work. That’s why we feature a small business in one of our communities every month!   blog window.jpgWhen Michelle Canter’s job as an X-Ray Technician was eliminated by corporate downsizing last year, she knew it was time for a change. That’s when her husband suggested that she return to her roots as a florist and open her own flower shop. Business has flourished since opening Wellston Flowerland on February 3 and the rest, as they say, is history.

Many area residents will remember the old Flowerland, which occupied the First Street building beginning in the mid twentieth century. It changed hands a few times over the years and the name eventually changed before the business was shuttered for some time, leaving the city without a local florist. However, when Michelle and Alvin Canter looked at the building, the sun shone on the faded outline of the Flowerland name on the store windows, and she knew that would be the name of her shop.

blog ladderWith some paint, elbow grease and hard work, the space has been transformed into a beautiful shop with a large workspace for Michelle’s floral work. The store sells floral designs and planters that are ready to buy but Michelle specializes in orders for custom work as well. Balloon and candy bouquets are also popular as well as custom quilt angels and other remembrance items like throws and pictures.

Gift items include Willow Tree Angels, Ohio State University jewelry, quilts, wall décor, seasonal décor, greeting cards and food mixes for cheeseballs, dips, soups, pancakes and cider.  Fall décor will be out soon and mums from Lucy’s Gardens Greenhouse in Jackson will arrive the week of the Coal Festival. Plans are underway for Christmas décor and poinsettias as well.

“I try to keep a lot of variety in the store,” Michelle said. “I like things that are unique, that are a little different that make people feel like they are getting something special. I try not to make the same arrangement twice.”

In addition to unique and quality flowers and gifts, Michelle said she tries to keep the prices affordable.  “I work to keep prices affordable and will work with people to make sure that no casket goes without something and that they stay within budget for what they need,” she explained.

She said that some customers are uncertain of what they want. In that case, she asks a lot of questions about the purpose, the recipient’s favorite color or flower, budget, etc. “We ask a lot of questions and can generally steer them in the right direction,” she said.

This is very much a family affair as her husband and daughter are involved in the shop operation. Michelle’s mother and mother-in-law help with deliveries as well.

“This has very much been a building year but I’m excited to see what next year will bring,” she said.

When asked why she chose this profession, Michelle smiled and said “I like it because when people are grieving, I can do something to help. When they need a gift or something to brighten someone’s day, I can help. Besides, everyone likes to get flowers!”

Wellston Flowerland is located at 111 East First Street in downtown Wellston. Stop by to browse the store and check out their seasonal window displays. They are open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday 8 a.m. to noon. Call Michelle at 740.577.6978. Follow them on Facebook or visit them online to place an order or browse their selection of floral arrangements.

 

Small Business Spotlight: Cook’s Creek Golf Club

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

BEST 15 PIC - USE IN ADCook’s Creek Golf Club in South Bloomfield on U.S. 23 in northern Pickaway County is unlike any golf course you’ve ever seen. In addition to simply being a beautiful place, it is known as one of the best public golf courses in Central Ohio. In fact, it was rated the 2017 Top Pick for Central Ohio Public Golf Courses by The Columbus Dispatch. However, what makes the place truly special is the unique story of how it came to be and the family ownership that helps make guests come in as strangers but leave feeling like family.

Cathy Cook’s eyes beam when she tells the story of how the family business came to be some 25 years ago. “This is truly a family business. My son is the Director of Food and Beverage, my daughter as a third year college student is involved with all aspects including operation of the Cookside Café, my dad is the Captain Cook of this ship and I’m the golf pro,  sort of the glue that holds everything together.”

The Cook family name is synonymous with golf – her brother John Cook is a former PGA Tour player with 21 PGA Tour victories, now currently a TV analyst, and Dad Jim Cook has a powerful name in the business of golf as well. Cathy is also known for her work as a pioneer in programs that teach kids to play golf.

Building the 250 acre golf course on farmland bordering the Scioto River and Little Walnut Creek was the logical next step for the golfing family. The property was previously a farm that sometimes struggled when Scioto River flood waters spilled out of the banks into the fields and forests. However, it was ideal property for a golf course.

The year was 1992 and the Cooks pooled their knowledge and experience to begin transforming the property using designs from local architects who were assisted by John Cook. The first nine holes opened in 1993 while the other nine debuted in 1995.

The golf course is bordered by 140 acres of wetlands and forests that the Cooks chose to leave for the wildlife – eagles, blue heron, deer, fox, rabbits, coyotes and other creatures call this place home.

The family actually has a special connection to this land. Here, Cathy’s grandfather, Burt Cook, worked as a young man, watering the livestock for meals and .25 cents a day. A giant sycamore tree and the old fashioned hand pump that her grandfather used all those years ago still stand on the fifteenth hole, near the 1800 farmhouse where Cathy’s parents reside.

While the property is close to U.S. Route 23, the course feels quiet and relaxing. Calming is a word often used to describe the property which is anchored by beautiful lakes and incredible old trees. Each hole is its own sanctuary, not seeing any of the other golfers on the course

“We want people to come here and have fun. We want them to relax. We want to make their day better and make them want to come back. We want them to feel like they’re family,” she said. “Only we won’t put them to work like we would real family,” she laughed.

The Cooks are working to create an environment that is relaxed and friendly for not just the experienced golfer but for the novice as well. That’s why they have active programs for women and for juniors. They also are in the process of developing the menu at Cooks Bar & Grill, hoping to create a dining experience that will appeal to locals who just want to eat.

They invite folks to stop by any time of the year for a full meal or just for appetizers and drinks on the deck.

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They also offer a banquet room that seats approximately 150 people for weddings, reunions, parties and other events. They offer full services including linens and food but event organizers are welcome to bring in their own caterers and decorators as well.

Earlier this month, Cooks Creek even hosted Governor John Kasich who visited an event hosted by House of Representatives District 92 Representative Gary Scherer. She said that Scherer frequently hosts community meetings here and that several organizations and golf leagues use the facilities. They also have a strong following of members and others who simply like to play the course. “It is humbling when someone chooses to spend their time with us,” Cathy said. “It is a high compliment when they choose to come here for an hour or for the day. It validates all the hard work we’ve been putting into this place and the efforts we’ve made to make it the place where people want to be. We don’t take this lightly.”

On a tour of the property, Cathy good naturedly joked with guests, calling them by name and making small talk. She seems to know the entire property like the back of her hand and takes pride in the work they are doing to improve it. The Cook family had actually sold the golf club three times before buying it back in August 2016. She indicated that parts of the property had deteriorated after the Cooks sold the golf club. They are working hard to bring it back to where the family believes it should be. “We have made a lot of progress and we know this because each time people come, they see the progress and they mention it. For a while it felt like two steps forward and five gigantic steps back. But we’re starting to make some real progress and we’re always looking for ways to improve,” she said.

Golf provides great life lessons, according to the seasoned pro. “Golf teaches you to face your fears. If you are intimidated by the water, you have to learn it’s just water. If you focus on where you want to go and let go, you’re fine. A lot of what golf teaches is how to manage yourself and about what you’re focusing on,” she said.

Cook’s Creek Golf Club is located at 16405 US Highway 23, South Bloomfield.  Learn more about Cook’s Creek at their website or follow them on Facebook.

 

 

 

 

Small Business Spotlight: The Shamrock

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

The Shamrock has been a fixture in downtown Logan since before Prohibition. New owner Shad Mace takes pride in keeping his Irish pub friendly, safe and welcoming to all.

It isn’t every day that you find yourself in an Irish pub in southern Ohio.  It’s an even rarer occasion to visit a business with one of the state’s oldest liquor licenses. The Shamrock, in downtown Logan, has a brand new owner but historic roots that are nearly a century old.

While owner Shad Mace doesn’t know the complete history of the business, he knows that it existed prior to Prohibition as a café, pub and hotel. Their liquor license was acquired just after the 1933 end of Prohibition.

Today the bar stands at 62 E. Main St., just a few blocks from its original home at Main and Mulberry streets. Mace said the previous owner moved the business to this location in 2003.

With exposed brick walls and numerous elements from the old bar, the place is quaint, welcoming and packed with character. “They brought over the original bar top and bar back, the booths, a vintage cigarette machine and a Tiffany glass sign to keep a lot of the original feel and the history,” Mace explained.

In 2003, the previous owner relocated the pub to its current location from just down the street. They brought with them the old booths, bar and other fixtures that give the pub a timeless, welcoming feel.

He purchased the pub in March and took over the business just in time for St. Patrick’s Day weekend. “We opened going into the busiest weekend of the year. It was a madhouse in here but it went much better than we expected. It was extremely busy,” he said. “If we could make it through that weekend we can make it through any weekend.”

The Logan native chuckled when asked if he had any experience running a bar. “No, that’s one thing I’ve never done,” he said. “But for some reason, wherever I would go – bars, restaurants that served – I always paid attention to what they were doing and kind of thought to myself that I could do better. That sounds arrogant but that’s just how I tend to think.”

Mace left Hocking County in pursuit of education at the University of Cincinnati where he spent some years as the UC Bearcats mascot. His career later took him to Arizona. After several years of missing the changing seasons, he returned to Logan where he began  a new career in sales for Osburn Associates, Inc.

In 2017 he learned there was an opportunity to purchase The Shamrock and he set to work on this new adventure. A clear perfectionist, Mace has plans for growing the business and a vision for what he wants it to be.

games and safe

Owner Shad Mace invites friends and families to gather round a table for a friendly game or two. The antique safe is original to the business which began sometime before Prohibition.

cigarette machine edit

The antique cigarette machine is another piece brought from the original bar. They no longer use it to dispense cigarettes but Mace believes it is in good working condition.

With music acts and food trucks on the weekends, he’s working hard to pack the place when folks are looking for something fun to do. They currently do not have a kitchen but Mace indicated that plans are in the works to have food available this fall. Meanwhile, customers are welcome to bring in their own food to enjoy while hanging out with friends or watching the game on oneof their televisions.

They do have The Golden Tee, an electronic golf game, and a golf league to encourage friendly competition among enthusiasts. A rack of board games like Trivial Pursuit and Sorry provide entertainment for groups large and small, young and old. In fact, they have Game Nights on Monday and Tuesday each week but customers are encouraged to play anytime. “We are very kid friendly here. In fact, kids are welcome to come along. We have games for the family to play and some non-alcoholic beverages that are kid friendly. We try to be a clean cut, casual, respectable place where parents feel comfortable bringing their kids,” he said.

A digital jukebox contrasts nicely against the antique fixtures and gives the place a sense of modernity. Although, not too much – they still have a vintage cigarette machine, an old safe and great vintage advertising art on the walls. A black and white photo hangs above the modern cash register, a tribute to where they come from. It shows the interior of the old bar, staff lined up waiting to help the patrons gathered around the bar.

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“We want to be different than the rest. It sounds like a tired old line but we want to have a friendly atmosphere. We want this place to be warm and inviting and a little different than what you see other places. It’s a small space but it has a lot of character and we’re going to continue building on the good things we have going here,” Mace said.

The Shamrock is located at 62 E. Main St. in Logan and is open 11 a.m. to 1 a.m. Call them at 740.216.5110 or follow them on Facebook for their latest events and information.