Best of Columbus 2021: Editors’ Picks for Goods & Services

An all-ages playground, perfectly imperfect tables, a place to find a vintage ouija board and more

Columbus Monthly staff
Robbie Friedman and Allison Zofan owners of ootBox in one of their mobile works spaces.

Timing 

The pandemic pushed many people into unfamiliar WFH territory, forcing them to create makeshift offices in basements, living rooms and other spots around their houses. It was a less-than-ideal situation—and Columbus startup ootBox launched just in time to offer folks a new option: a portable office pod, made out of repurposed shipping containers, that can be set up in backyards. The idea has gotten plenty of attention, with everyone from The Wall Street Journal to Architectural Digest writing about the company’s prefab minioffices, which can be leased from $750 to $1,000 a month and be purchased for around $30,000. 

All-Ages Playground 

After opening adventure park Play: CLE in Northeast Ohio in 2017 and seeing its popularity, Greg Carlin turned his sights south, opening Play: CBUS in November. Featuring the world’s largest indoor ropes course—Carlin is seeking a “Guinness Book of World Records” entry—as well as ninja courses, climbing and bouldering walls, yard games like cornhole, a scratch-made kitchen, a full bar and more, the 53,000-square-foot facility’s ethos of “choose your own adventure” is easy to do. 

More:Columbus Monthly’s Best of Columbus 2021

Catch-All Kitchen Store 

It’s not often that a storefront that sells tableware and antipasti is named one of the 15 best Italian restaurants in the U.S. by Fodor’s. But there’s nothing common about Quinci Emporium, a shop, specialty market and kitchen where Italian-born Deborah Quinci shares her secrets for delectable handmade pastas in intimate classes, accompanied by wine. You won’t find the latest gizmo here—just simple, top-quality goods such as Mosser glassware from Cambridge, Ohio, or Staub’s cast-iron pots from France. 

Perfectly Imperfect Tables 

Grandview is the home of the only Ohio retail store operated by Created Hardwood, a manufacturer of custom furniture based in Dundee, Ohio. The gallery on Grandview Avenue showcases a variety of unique products, but the stars of the show are the tables, handmade creations that turn imperfections such as knots, cracks and natural edges into one-of-a-kind features. 

Reason for a Plant-Based Road Trip 

When Groovy Plants Ranch owner Jared Hughes was just 18, he discovered an affinity for growing things. At first, he was strictly wholesale, selling plants he propagated at flea markets and the like before attracting garden center clients like Oakland and Strader’s and eventually opening one of his own in Marengo, just off I-71. The 3-acre property is lush with annuals, perennials, vegetables and colorful blooms. Houseplants get their own greenhouse, as do succulents and cacti; shoppers can purchase a decorative pot and transfer their new plant into it with complimentary soil at the Potting Saloon. The 150-year-old former schoolhouse out front was one of the property’s main draws for Hughes; today it houses seeds and handmade, artisanal goods like clothing, art and local honey. Its back porch serves as a stage for concerts during non-COVID times. “We’re 100 percent committed to making a fun, inviting space for people—with great plants,” Hughes says. 

Historic Ouija boards at WitchLab in Franklinton

Place to Find a Vintage Ouija Board 

“I’ve been a collector of antiques and witchy things forever,” says Tiffany Boggins, the owner of occult, oddities and antiques shop WitchLab. Many of those items, from vintage Ouija boards to an astounding taxidermy collection, are on display or for sale at the Franklinton shop. You’ll also find candles, herbs, crystals, tarot cards, books covering everything from Wicca and Buddhism to hoodoo and Appalachian folk magic, and much more. There are classes (virtual during the pandemic) on a variety of topics, and even a small gathering space/reading room for personal study.