Thursday, February 9, 2012

Tales of this shopkeeper - one of the best kept secrets in Ohio

Winsome Cottage is located in the heart of Waynesville, Ohio.  A historic little town right off Hwy 42 about 45 minutes north of Cincinnati.  Established in the late 1700's, it still maintains a certain quaint, old fashioned charm.  With over 60 shops and restaurants, it is great day or weekend destination for shopping, dining and exploring.

It is here in Waynesville that I have had the privilege of owning a business since July of 2009.   I wouldn't change a thing.  It's smalltown USA to a tee.  Let me walk you through a typical day in one of my favorite little corners of the world....

It's 9:50 a.m. on a Thursday.  I'm heading up Main St. not a soul around. I pass "The Peddlar House on my right.  Debbie, the owner, is a friend of mine.  Her shop is always a wonderful experience and she is just a sweet person. I see her heading out to hang her open flag and wave as I pass by. The sign out front of The Village Restaraunt says "special....soup beans and cornbread".  "They'll be packed today" I think to myself.  The light is red at the first of only two stoplights on Main and as I stop the car and look to the left I see that the Fabric Shack is opening it's door for business.  Housed in two separate buildings in town you won't find a better selection of home decor and quilting fabrics and supplies anywhere around.

I turn left on Miami St. to park around the corner from my shop.  Across the street and down a bit is the post office.  I decide to check my p.o. box for mail before opening.  As I head to my shop I see Mary Jo, owner of Cheap John's, out front sweeping the walk.  We exchange "morning!" and I continue past Canada Goose Gallery to Winsome Cottage next door.  I'm just turning my key in the lock when Laura, owner of Canada Goose Gallery, pulls up front to park and open her shop.  She begins to haul in large framed pieces of P.Buckley Moss.  I'm thankful to have her right next door.

The "closed" sign has been flipped to "open" at Mad Anthony's across the street and I hear the church bell a block behind us ringing ten times.....the business day has begun....
Lamps and twinkly lights turned on, celtic music softly playing,  my first customer of the day walks in.  "Good morning" I say.
"I was here on Monday and no one was open" she began.  "Oh, I'm sorry. Monday isn't a good day to be here in Waynesville.  Most shops are open Tuesday through Sunday and, well, you know, everyone needs a day off." I say with a chuckle.  The customer isn't smiling or replying so I ask her if she is on the hunt for anything in particular today.  "No, it's just that I've been here since 9:30 and alot of the shops are closed" she complains.  Now, it depends on my mood but sometimes I just say "Well, I'm open!" and smile.  But, this time I get our pamphlet and begin to circle all the shops that open at 10:00 and tell her that by the time she gets through these the others will be open.  She takes the pamphlet and leaves and I know the day can only get better from here on.

It's now 12:00.  The door flies open and there is my landlord, Lee.  "Hey, kid, would you be interested in yoga classes on Thursday nights with some of us?  Lee is 77 years old and works circles around most of us.  She wants to take yoga to "get loosened up".  I say yes.  It will be fun to be with these ladies.  Most of them are  current or past shop owners and have been in Waynesville for many years.

I haven't brought a lunch today so I call Hammel House to see what the soup of the day is.  Marilyn answers and I am delighted to hear that Corn Chowder is one of the choices.  Hammel House has a wonderful menu and it's owner, Pam, is as genuine as they come.  I order my bowl of soup and Marilyn says "I'll have it ready in a few minutes for ya!"  Let me just say that this isn't your ordinary corn chowder, no, it's much more!  Thick and delicious.

As I'm walking the half block back to my shop with my lunch sirens go off and the fire truck pulls out of the fire house across the street.  Lights flashing and siren blasting, it turns to speed quickly down Main to parts unknown.  There are three ladies standing outside my shop and I apologize for being closed.  My little handwritten sign on the door says "Be right back" but I stopped to chat a bit with Marilyn while paying for my lunch.  The ladies are smiling and friendly.  Whew!

My message light is blinking on the phone as I walk in the door.  It's from Belinda, owner of Treasure Trove.  We use to be neighbors on a side street in Waynesville and have both moved to a new location.  I have missed talking with her on slow days out front of our shops.  She has some news.  She is moving her business across the street from me in the spring! Neighbors once again and I am really excited.  I think alot of Belinda.  She is an eternal optimist, not easily discouraged and runs her business with intelligence and perseverance.  Her easy going temperament makes customers want to come back.  I know her move will be a profitable one and I will love being able to wave and talk across the way with her.

It's now 3:00, the sun is shining and the day is mild.  Gary, from the antique shop around the corner is sitting on a bench across the street.  I decide to get some vitamin D and go out to sweep the walk. "Hi, Marykay!" Gary yells.  I wave to him and as a truck pulls up to the stoplight, Gary starts talking with the driver.  They seem to know each other.  My phone begins to ring inside.
It's Dawn from the Chamber of Commerce.  Did I want to put any specials for the shop on the website this month? A previous shopowner, Dawn, works hard to promote this little town.  We appreciate her efforts.

There is a comfortableness about this place along with the people that work here.  There are standards and values here.  It is the slower pace that draws people here and the friendliness of the shopkeepers that care.  There's a reason customers say they skipped work that day to come to Waynesville.

It is now after 5:00.  As I turn down Main I notice most of the shops are closed and there are a few stragglers wandering around hoping to find an "open" sign. Fifteen minutes ago the church bell chimed five times.   The parking lot at Village Restaurant is full..... yes, soup beans and corn bread.....only in small town USA:)

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