Why Upper Arlington's Fresh Crafts Gallery Carries American-Made Goods

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Julie Jenkins craved the simpler lifestyle of Columbus, where she was born and raised. So after practicing law in New England for more than 25 years, she decided to return. "Columbus is a vibrant city," Jenkins, 57, says. "It had grown up since I grew up here." Not wanting to reinvent herself as a lawyer in Columbus, Jenkins pursued her dream of owning a shop and opened Fresh Crafts Gallery in 2013. The Upper Arlington store features domestic-made items from more than 120 artists who create things from ceramics to jewelry to greeting cards. "The idea to carry American craft was spurred by some stores in New England," Jenkins says. "There are so many talented artists, and it's really important to get their work out there."

How would you describe the shop's vibe?

Bright, cheerful, fun, colorful, unique and lively. People will come in and say, "I was having a bad day and I just wanted to come in and look around." And then they'll leave with a smile on their face.

What's your favorite thing from the shop that you personally own or use?

My son gave me a ChappyWrap blanket for Christmas. The one I got has hydrangeas on it, which are my favorite flower. I do have a Sea Bag, too-they're made from recycled sails, and they're basically indestructible.

What other local stores do you admire?

Thalia & Dahlia, Rue de Lily, Fritzy Jacobs and Relish House. And Helen Winnemore. It's similar to Fresh Crafts Gallery in the fact that it has American craft.

What are you doing when you're not here?

Getting together for dinner with friends. I'd like to start playing golf. I also travel as often as I can.

Single favorite item to eat in the city?

Whatever the special is at Tony's Italian Ristorante on High Street in German Village. I love that place! I usually go with a couple friends and we sit at the bar. Chuck, the bartender, and Tony, the owner, are terrific people. And the food there is always fabulous.

Best place to enjoy a drink?

The Pearl. I usually get a Moscow Mule.

Ultimate Saturday in Columbus?

It would have to be a home football game day, when it's a 3:30 p.m. game. I would tailgate, then go to the game. The Buckeyes would win, so then I'd get together with friends to celebrate the win.

Best business tip you can offer?

It's all about the customer. Greeting each customer when they come in the door is imperative.

What's your personal mission statement?

I try to be grateful for friends and family and show that gratitude. I'm very lucky that I love what I'm doing. I'm reconnecting with old friends and making new friends in Columbus.