Small Shops, Unusual Items in Columbiana

COLUMBIANA, Ohio – There are many reasons why people decide to shop locally, and business owners in the city of Columbiana offer their own. 

Finding remarkable items, enjoying hands-on and personable service and creating relationships with the people in the community are what shoppers experience in Columbiana, they say.

And it makes good economic sense. 

As Forbes magazine reports, citing the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies, for every $100 spent at any local business, $68 of that sum remains in the community. That’s more than twice the amount chains reinvest.

What follows is a glimpse of what shoppers will find in Columbiana, the town recently named “Nicest Place in America” by Reader’s Digest.

Live Music, Wine at Moondance Boutique

Three years ago, Peggy Christy, owner of Moondance Boutique, was the first tenant to arrive at Firestone Farms, a shopping center at 101 Town Center Ave. It was lonely for a few months, she says, but as neighbors arrived, business improved.

Apart from selling scarves, clothes and jewelry, Christy wanted something included in her store that was more unusual than what other stores offer, she says. As a musician, bringing a piano into the picture was ideal. 

Business has steadily picked up this year at Moondance Boutique. She has “lots of little tricks in my bag” to keep people coming to her store, Christy says, other than sending mass texts and emails. 

Peggy Christy provides music for shoppers at Moondance Boutique. 

To keep people shopping at Moondance Boutique, Christy hosts events and serves wine in her store. She uses the piano to provide live music, and will host a fashion show Nov. 23 during Winter Fest at Firestone Farms. 

As a member of the Columbiana Chamber of Commerce, Christy has made connections with downtown vendors and business owners, she says. Between retailers downtown and at Firestone Farms, all do their best to support one another. 

“People should shop local because we are the people of the community that you know, that you work with, that you went to school with, that you worship with,” Christy says.

When people support local businesses, it builds the community and keeps dollars local. There is competition with online shopping, but people still like personal contact, Christy says. 

“It’s free enterprise and that’s what I was taught in my upbringing.” Christy says. 

Local Artists, Makers at Primitive Gatherings

For 13 years, the work of local artists, home decor items and antiques have been the focal points at Primitive Gatherings, 2 E. Park Ave. From dish towels to candles to Christmas-tree ornaments, customers can find “a little bit of everything,” says co-owner Rhonda Pahanish. 

Dolls from the Common Thread, wooden furniture from Old World Charm and candles from Amish Lights Candles are among the locally made items featured at the shop. 

During this time of year, popular items include Christmas decor, little red trucks, Santa Clauses and snowmen. A lot of “oohs” and “ahs” are heard as people enter the store and see the displays, Pahanish says. 

“It’s set up a little different than your normal store. All of the store owners in town try to work together on things and we do a lot of promotions together,” she says. 

Primitive Gatherings features local artists, says Rhonda Pahanish. 

Pahanish says she knows many of her customers by name; they know her by name. She knows what their families are like and they ask about her family. 

“Everybody feels like you’re best friends with them,” Pahanish says. “You don’t get that with an online store.” 

November is typically the busiest time of the year for Primitive Gatherings. During Christmas in Columbiana, held Nov. 22-24, the shop holds an open house and takes part in Small Business Saturday, Pahanish says. Spring and fall open houses are featured as well. 

When it comes to shopping locally, customer service remains a big inducement, Pahanish says. 

Typically, those who shop locally are receiving help from the store owner, so they have more leeway with what they can do if a customer has concerns. 

“When you’re not shopping local, that’s when you have a lot of empty storefronts and your downtowns don’t look so good,” Pahanish says.

A Family-Owned Business Since 1976

Pewter Peddler, 25 S. Main St., began with the great aunt and great uncle of current co-owner Amanda Bowker, who runs the store alongside her mother. 

In its early days, the store dealt mainly in pewter, but over the years, it became more of a home decor retailer.

“One of the things we pride ourselves on here is always finding something that you’re not going to find anywhere else,” Bowker says. “We also pride ourselves on making sure that we have quality stuff at a price everyone can afford.”

Bowker is known for the floral decor items she makes and sells at Pewter Peddler, she says, and she attends shows every year to find items by local makers.

New and used items made from pewter are also available. 

Pewter Peddler co-owner Amanda Bowker also offers floral arrangements. 

“There’s all kinds of different versions of it,” Bowker explains. “There’s different percentages. You’ll find pewter that’s more black, that has more iron. You’ll find aluminum, you’ll find silver – everything.” 

The shop does well, Bowker says. Some customers have been loyal to the store since it opened in 1976, she adds. During the holidays, new people are always coming in as well. 

“We always have candles and we do buybacks from people when they want to downsize,” Bowker says. “You can find pretty much anything here.”

Apart from using Facebook to drive customers, word of mouth is a large factor in people coming to the store. 

“We’ve been very lucky that we have a community that is constantly promoting our town and our street,” Bowker says. 

“When you come here, you’re going to leave with everything you want; you’re going to make sure that someone is here who’s qualified to answer your questions. And if you don’t know what you’re looking for, we’ll find all of those answers for you,” she says.

For more information, visit Pewter Peddler’s website here.

‘Wonderful, Unusual’ at Park Avenue Marketplace

Customers can expect a “wonderful, unusual” shopping experience with a little bit of everything at Park Avenue Marketplace, 14 E. Park Ave. 

Here they will find  items from local artisans working in everything from wax to steel and antique dealers, says co-owner Ginny Perkins, and many customers find things they didn’t come looking for.

Perkins and her husband have owned Park Avenue Marketplace for 2 1/2 years. 

When people decide to shop locally, they will always find the unusual, she observes.

“You’re supporting your local community,” Perkins says. “You’re supporting your neighbors by shopping here.”

The customer base is built through sales throughout the year, Perkins says. To get the word out, she holds a women’s night out and donates to local fundraising events such as The Way Station gala. 

Shoppers want to see a friendly face and they want to hear a friendly “hello” when they enter your store, Perkins says. It’s important in building customer relationships and a customer base, she adds. 

Perkins wants her store to be a place where people can come in and wander, have a cup of coffee and enjoy themselves, she says. 

“They want the nod; they want a little bit of conversation,” Perkins says. 

“A lot of people remember back in the day in Columbiana there was a place called Vivian’s. And people liked to come to Vivian’s not because it was unusual, but because of Vivian. That’s the kind of place every business should want to be.” 

Pictured at top: Park Avenue Marketplace prides itself on personality, says Ginny Perkins. 

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