Former Liverpool Service Station Now Offers EV Fill-ups

EAST LIVERPOOL, Ohio – A downtown location where motorists once filled up their vehicles with gasoline is the site of the first electric vehicle charging station in the southern portion of Columbiana County. It also is a book and gift shop.

The ribbon was cut Saturday at The Pear Tree Shop, 433 Broadway Ave., where owner Carrie Ann Williams greeted guests and talked about her new venture.

Although she was born in Steubenville and now resides in Maryland, Williams’ grandparents Ann and Ernie Purton were from East Liverpool.

“Even when I was little, we spent all our time in East Liverpool. When we moved to Maryland, we still spent holidays here. When I learned what ‘development’ was, I thought, ‘OK, I should look at East Liverpool,’” Williams says.

Carrie Ann Williams, owner of The Pear Tree Shop, which officially opened last weekend in East Liverpool.

She brings to the city a background that includes her own marketing agency, Andana Consulting, as well as serving as marketing director for a four-store book chain in Maryland, working at Barnes & Noble, and for an urban planning group. “Having a book store was on the list” of her development plans, she says.

It was her husband who found the building on Broadway, which most recently served as the offices of Cooper Insurance. Williams told her husband, “Let’s put in an offer.”

Former owner Steve Cooper said he asked what Williams had in mind for the building that he purchased in 1985. The building had been a church at one time and was the Standard Oil filling station from 1920 until 1984.

“I took out the (gas) tanks and remodeled it, but the existing building is still there,” Cooper says. “The front of it was changed so it didn’t look like a service station.”

When Williams told him her plans for a book and gift store, as well as the EV charging station, Cooper says, “I knew the family, so I felt pretty good about it.”

The deal was struck last November and the business opened this summer with one employee, manager Amy McCormack. Williams’ mother, Kathryn Purton Giambroni, and sister Krista Miller Romano are, Williams says with a laugh, “ad hoc employees.”

After seeing the completed project during the ribbon cutting, Cooper adds, “I’m excited about what she has done with the place. She has some very unusual things in [the store],” Cooper says.

Cooper says he is especially pleased about a city native returning to starta business. “We have to get our young people back here,” he says.

The idea for the EV charging station came about to tie it in with the property’s history as a former service station. Williams says it has gained interest, with an average of 10 users per month coming from a wide area.

The charging station is near the main highway serving the city, which gives it potential of bringing users who may also spend time in her store as well as other downtown shops and attractions, according to Williams. 

Since purchased by Williams, the building has undergone some remodeling, including removing the drop ceiling and dry wall used in the office setting to expose the original service station interior, including tile walls.

“I found that to be so cool,” Williams says.

Eli Murphy Construction, which recently located in the Wise Buys Carpet building on Fifth Street, did the construction and remodeling. Decorative industrial lighting installed by Whiskertin of Akron  complimented the service-station theme.

Customers at The Pear Tree Shop in East Liverpool peruse a wide array of books, gift items and custom decor.

The store’s name is a nod to Williams’ grandparents, the Purtons, whose ancestors are from Stoke-on-Trent in England, and whose name, roughly translated, means “pear tree.”

Williams’ nephew, Nathan Romano, designed the store logo.

Inside, buyers and browsers alike can find books – including children’s – from well-known authors, stationery, handmade soaps, gift items, home decor and a line of custom items embossed with “43920,” the city zip code.

Starting Nov. 1, the seating area at the rear of the store will feature alternating works by local artists.

Although the fiction and nonfiction book inventory is large, Williams welcomes customers to order books not in the store from the website. Her store will receive a portion of the online sales if The Pear Tree is mentioned when ordering.

Williams and her husband also recently purchased The Sturgis House, a Victorian bed and breakfast on Fifth Street, with plans of re-opening it in mid-November.

The B&B was originally the Sturgis Funeral Home, which gained attention in 1934 when the body of Dust Bowl bandit Charles Arthur “Pretty Boy Floyd” was displayed for thousands of viewers after being killed outside East Liverpool by order of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover.

Williams says she is being encouraged to add a coffee or wine shop to the The Pear Tree’s offerings, and agrees there is potential for such expansion . 

Store hours are 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday. Hours likely will be expanded for the holidays, with some type of special event planned for the Dec. 3 Christmas in the City event.

Pictured at top: A ribbon cutting ceremony was held Saturday to officially open The Pear Tree Shop. From left: City Councilman John Mercer, Mayor Greg Bricker and his daughter Claire, store owner Carrie Ann Williams, her mother Kathryn Purton Giambroni and sister Krista Miller Romano, store manager Amy McCormack and former building owners Joan and Steve Cooper. 

Copyright 2024 The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.