Rolling stone

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

For two years, its home was a virtual one. And after less than six months as a physical store, Down the Garden Path will move down Arlington Avenue, to a smaller shop in the same strip.

Owner Mandy Bonnette is sure the customers of her earth-friendly store will continue to follow her.

Bonnette's interest in bamboo fabric was what got the ball rolling down the garden path to begin with. As a landscape designer, she knows the effect people have on their environment, and she appreciated bamboo fiber's eco-friendly aspects. Plus, it's silky-soft and wicks away moisture.

Unfortunately, without a fabric sample to rub between their fingers or a pajama set to try on, customers checking out bamboo on her website weren't as interested.

Moving Down the Garden Path from the web down to earth helped.

Along with a full selection of men's and women's bamboo clothing in casual and dressier styles, Bonnette added plenty of eco-friendly and locally made merchandise, as well as a slate of free community events.

The walls of the store's wide space are lined with jewelry, accessories and housewares. Bonnette prides herself on carrying merchandise that has a story, and she's able to repeat all of them as she moves from one item to the next.

A long glass case holds several jewelry lines made in the U.S. - some made from recycled aluminum, others from shells.

Sea stone-adorned wine stoppers, sure to be a conversation starter, sit by the far wall's fireplace. The man who gathers the stones, which have been polished smooth by the sea on the coast of Maine, throws in a rock for each one he takes, Bonnette said.

And around the store hang a variety of purses, pouches and bags. Right now, Bonnette's featuring brightly colored bags made from printed rice bags in the Philippines.

"Rice is such a high commodity there that this is the way they advertise, with these beautiful, elaborate colors and designs," Bonnette said. "So a company in California said, 'Oh, they're too beautiful to throw away - what can we do with them?'"

Other items come from closer to home.

Alongside the bamboo bath towels and bed sheets are lotions, soaps and other homemade, scented products from Columbus-based With Nature in Mind, and German Village crafter Nancy Smelter's flower-shaped brooches, made from tie fabric. Cozy Toads, toad-shaped corn bags meant to be heated or cooled and used for pain relief, are made in Plain City.

And upcoming in-store events include an introduction to yoga session on March 21, taught by local instructor Kathy Yannucci.

Down the Garden Path

2108 Arlington Ave., Upper Arlington