Care packages, home furnishings, laundromat for punk rockers, more

Laundromat for Punk Rockers
Live music is everywhere in hipster-infested Old North Columbus—even at the friendly neighborhood laundromat. Over the past two years, Dirty Dungarees, 2586 N. High St., has emerged as one of the better places in town to check out local and regional punk, metal and experimental noise bands such as Close the Hatch, Ampline and Bloody Show, adding a new twist to an already unusual business model—a laundromat with a full-service bar.

High-Flying Party
You can't train to be a pilot at Take Flight Ohio, but you can still have a good time. Since opening in December, the high-tech flight-simulator business at 4816 Sawmill Road has carved out a unique niche in Columbus catering to parties, corporate events and everyday folks who want to have fun discovering what it's like to pilot a commercial Boeing 737 in a pretend cockpit decked out with switches, lights, sounds and computer screens. Packages range from $35 for 10 minutes to $300 for 110 minutes, and no experience is necessary.

Spa with a Twist
Grab a glass of wine to go with that 30-minute dermaplane treatment or spend a full day in-house getting manicures, massages, chocolate munchies and more. Bridal spa day has gone mainstream at the new Penzone Salon + Spa in the Short North's White Castle building, where the bistro menu is nearly as long as the spa menu (and White Castle burgers can be found next door). This Penzone location breaks the mold: It's designed in new-millennium fashion for patrons who want to unwind and connect.

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Adorable Free Food Pantry
Diane Strauser's first tiny, free pantry was a picnic cooler at the end of her Berwick driveway, filled with canned goods for anyone who was hungry. Soon, others followed her example, building and stocking six Little Free Pantries around Bexley, Berwick and Eastmoor. Strauser says food placed in the public cupboards disappears quickly. A year later, Gretchen Davis of Carroll got her kids involved in creating a Blessing Box—another name for the same thing. Their effort inspired 20 more—several of them former newspaper dispensers donated by theDispatch.

Slow-Fashion Emporia
If you're looking for clothing that's been created without harm to humans or the environment, try Small Talk in Clintonville (3337 N. High St.), where owners Chloe Crites and Suzanne Riska carry sustainably made garments and accessories. Next door at tiny Valiente, you can dress up your home with a rug or a couple of pillows, sourced responsibly from artisans in developing communities. Shopping online? Check out Altre (; Columbus maker Aileen Clemans alters vintage clothes to make the old seem new.

Columbus Care Packages
The subscription box craze is taking hold in Columbus, where several startups with local ties are delivering lovingly curated packages to their customers' mailboxes. New York-based BarkBox, which has a second office in Columbus, targets dog lovers who want to spoil their pooches with unusual treats and toys. Mercury Mile, a Columbus Running Co. spinoff, features unique athletic wear (including clothes made from recycled coffee grounds), while Kid Wonder, founded by two Central Ohio moms, keeps children busy with crafts and activities. For those who'd rather drink their coffee instead of wear it, Buckeye Bean Box delivers monthly to its subscribers two 12-ounce bags of whole bean coffee from Ohio roasters. And for those who prefer experiences to products, Salt Effect, founded by two Ohio State communications lecturers, shares information about service-learning projects for families.

Bootstrapping Sisters
Sisters are doin' it for themselves, running businesses together all over town. Some even let their moms join in. Cara, Nicole and Krista Woodhouse, along with their mother, Carla, collaborate to create healthy comfort food at Woodhouse Vegan, a pop-up at Oddfellows Liquor Bar. Fourteen years after Betsy Johnston and her daughters Ashley Seminari and Jessica Johnston Carle opened Cheesecake Boutique in Dublin, Johnston and Carle are still running the stylish shop, offering what-to-wear tips family-style. And earlier this year, identical twins Lisa and Lindsey Rusch opened Brekkie Shack in Grandview Yard, serving the best meal of the day, all day.

Hotbeds of Home Furnishings
Design mojo is on overdrive, with several homegrown furniture and accessory stores popping up in Central Ohio. You can find anything from inspirational tea towels to larger vintage pieces at Elm & Iron, in three locations locally, as well as the outdoor-centric Urban Home & Garden at Easton. Local wood is carved into sleek modern furnishings at TY Fine Furniture, 4555 N. High St., in Clintonville. Grandview's Fortin Ironworks Vintage Market, 944 W. Fifth Ave., is worth a peek for refurbished hardwoods (and, well, iron). In the Short North, Created Hardwood, 16 W. Poplar Ave., offers Ohio-grown woods in its solid tables, countertops and more.

Faceoff: Nutcracker Collections
Decorative Christmas figurines are the signature design element of two Central Ohio businesses. The Nutcracker Family Restaurant in Pataskala has long been known for its unique collection, but hairstylist Wayne Melton also boasts an impressive seasonal display in the salon he runs out of his Worthington home.

Hairstylist Wayne Melton

Nutcracker Family Restaurant

Owner: Wayne Melton

Owners: The Butcher family

Origins: Melton bought about six nutcrackers as Christmas decorations in 1987 for his then rented space in Clintonville, and his collection kept growing from there. “It just kind of escalated and snowballed to what I have today,” Melton says.

Origins: When Steve and Nancy Butcher founded the business about 25 years ago, it was an old-fashioned ice cream and candy shop called Nutcracker Sweets, a play on the ballet.

Total nutcrackers: 451

Total nutcrackers: 353 (238 on display, 115 in storage)

Nutcrackers per square foot: 1.7

Nutcrackers per square foot: 0.14

Where they come from: Mostly donations from customers, though Melton does purchase one a year. Because of limited space in his studio, he asks his clients to give him only smaller figurines (about 6 to 12 inches tall).

Where they come from: Donations. After a 2005 fire destroyed their original collection, the Butchers benefited from the generosity of customers and friends. “People started dragging in nutcrackers from everywhere,” Steve Butcher says.

Most unusual nutcracker: A sushi chef, one of several German-made figurines he owns

Most unusual nutcracker: A smoke-stained Winnie-the-Pooh, the only figurine to survive the fire

Fun fact: Melton only displays his nutcrackers from the end of November to the end of January. “My clients say, ‘Wayne, why don't you leave them out?' I say, ‘Do you want to come over and dust them?'”

Fun fact: A young boy once was so terrified by the nutcrackers at the restaurant that he and his family were forced to leave after five minutes. “He wasn't just a little bit afraid,” Butcher says. “It was a clown phobia kind of thing.”


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