PROFILE: Celebrate Local: Shop the Best of Ohio at Easton Town Center

A suburban mall isn’t exactly the location that comes to mind when you consider the shop local movement. But Heidi Maybruck, responsible for bringing the successful Easton Farmers Market to Easton Town Center this year, saw a perfect opportunity to liven up the summer shopping experience and to help educate mall-goers about the benefits of buying local. With the success of the farmers market, Maybruck realized that the concept could evolve into a project to extend beyond the growing season, and so the idea for the Celebrate Local shop was born.

The brick and mortar shop opened in October and sells exclusively local products at the former Harry and David gift-fruit store at Easton. The non-profit seasonal shop will be open for business through January 31 of 2012, giving Ohio farmers, and the best of Ohio’s artisan food vendors, artists, crafters and other local specialty retailers a presence at Easton during the busy holiday season. In addition to Maybruck, Celebrate Local’s project team includes Economic and Community Development Institute (ECDI), Global Gallery and the Easton Community Foundation.

Easton Community Foundation, a non-profit group funded by Easton's parking meters and parking tickets has offered generous support by donating the store space and paying the utilities. ECDI has taken the charge of marketing and more for the shop, and Global Gallery is responsible for managing store operations and vendor relationships.

Celebrate Local features about 160 Ohio-based vendors. Shoppers will find everything from apples and pumpkins to frozen and baked goods, maple syrup, Ohio wines and more. Vendors include Columbus favorites such as Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams, Brothers Drake Meadery and Luna Burger. Though the food items are the staple for the shop, the shop showcases the handcrafted work of around 45 artists and crafters. Holiday shoppers can expect to find art, hand-spun yarns, beeswax candles, beauty products, jewelry, accessories as well as eco-friendly products for sale.  Shoppers can choose items from around the store to create their own custom gift baskets.

To help manage the non-food vendors, Connie DeJong, executive director for Global Gallery, reached out to Olivera Bratich, a well-known proponent of the buy local movement and owner of popular Clintonville shop, Wholly Craft. Wholly Craft currently features the work of more than 200 vendors, with 80 of those being from Columbus. When DeJong invited Bratich to help out, she jumped right on board.

“At Wholly Craft, we love the idea of exposing our artists to crowds who are not familiar with their work,” said Bratich. “And this collaboration with Celebrate Local has been a prime opportunity. Our success depends on our artists’ success.”

There was an application process for the vendors and artists and Wholly Craft brought in some of their shop's featured artists.

“There are lots of great gift-y items like paper goods, stationery,” said Bratich. “We carry Amy D aprons, potholders, coffee sleeves wine bags, candles, Stinky Bomb Soaps. We also feature jewelers including Martha Ponn from Newark and Anne Holman from Columbus.”

Bratich said the project has been well-received mainly because the foods are absolutely delicious and the handcrafted items are fun and unique. 

“It’s also been successful in raising awareness of the concept of shopping local to mall-goers—people we tend to think of as the opposite of being interested in that kind of thing. But it’s been amazingly well-received.”

So is this one-of-a-kind pop-up shop just for the holiday season or is it here to say?

“The hope is that it’s the beginning of something bigger,” said Bratich. “Maybe we could end up staying longer, it’s not certain. We hope to facilitate the concept so that it continues around the city. Maybe it will catch on and move to other cities, too.”

Celebrate Local is excited to offer delicious samples from diverse vendors in-store on Thursdays and Sundays. Click here to check out the vendor sampling schedule.

To read more about the products and vendor lines click here.




Columbus Commons courtesy of columbuscommons.org.

Off the Wall:  Ohio Art League
Presented by McConnell Arts Center
Through January 8

Holiday Pops
Presented by Columbus Symphony
December 2-4

Old Folks Own, A Play by Is Said
Presented by New Harvest Cafe & Urban Arts Center
December 2-11

Yelp in Toyland (to Benefit CD102.5 for the Kids)
Presented by Camelot Wine Cellars
December 3

Joy!  Home is Where the Hearth Is
Presented by Columbus Gay Men's Chorus
December 9-11

Columbus Commons Holiday Fair
Presented by Columbus Commons
December 16-18

Convergence: Works by Julie Friedman
Presented by Cultural Arts Center
Through December 24

Forties Yuletide Frolics
Presented by Mayhem & Mystery
Through December 29