AURORA, Ohio — Many businesses are closing up shop due to COVID-19.
But the closures and cancellations are actually the inspiration behind a new business: the Ohio Artisan Collective.
“Most of these small businesses subsisted on craft shows, festivals, vendor events, stuff like that. And those were all canceled because of the pandemic. This is our solution,” said Jessica Brown.
Jessica Brown co-owns the gift shop with her husband, Jason.
“We’re basically a stepping stone for a lot of other smaller businesses to have a retail location. Whereas, by themselves, they wouldn't be able to sustain a store. So, in numbers, we’re able to do that," said Jason.
They sell all kinds of products from small businesses around Ohio.
“Everywhere from like the larger cities, Akron, Columbus, to small towns like Newbury and North Ridgeville,” said Jessica.
Jessica wears many hats — including the coffee bar’s barista.
“The classic definition of being a small business owner. You got to do everything. You do the books, you do this, you do that, everything in between,” she said.
Jessica and Jason opened up the store in June.
“It's been a heck of an adventure. I couldn't pick a better teammate,” said Jason.
The married couple will celebrate their fourth anniversary this weekend, and initially bonded over their mutual love for woodworking.
“I think that's one of the things that attracted him to me was that I had my own little woodshop already,” said Jessica.
"Yeah. I was very impressed to meet her and then find her woodshop ready to go,” replied Jason.
The pair created a company called "Wood Thingamajigs" in 2016. It started in their attic and then expanded into a studio space to handcraft home goods.
Their speciality is Ohio-themed pieces.
“We did 69 shows last year as a means of making money and we did about four this year because of the pandemic. So, now we have somewhere to sell our items every single day,” said Jessica.
“It's our everyday bread and butter," said Jason.
The Browns say this new retail business is a success. So much so, they’re hiring.
“We have been absolutely blown away,” said Jessica.
Debi Kaminski is an antique dealer in Richfield. She creates whimsical art and right now her decorations are holiday-themed.
Kaminski is one of about 60 small business vendors part of the Ohio Artisan Collective.
“Very happy. I was sort of leery because I wasn’t really confident in my art and it’s actually picking up and doing very well. So, I’m very pleased with it,” said Kaminski, who owns Fairies & Foraging Finds.
Brown says the store has introduced them to lots of new friends.
Ohio Artisan Collective is always looking for new vendors to keep things fresh.
The shop is located at the Aurora Farms Premium Outlets and the Browns are hoping for a holiday boost.
“I’m enjoying it — it's definitely an adventure,” said Jason. “It's really fulfilling to see not only your own stuff sell, but other small businesses succeed as well,” replied Jessica.