Years ago, Canal Winchester's downtown featured the typical Main Street businesses - a grocery, a pharmacy and a hardware store. Though these businesses have closed, the town has been fortunate to attract new stores catering to different audiences.
"We have constantly reinvented ourselves," said Bruce Jarvis, executive director of Destination Canal Winchester. The community, he said, doesn't have "vacant buildings that are a painful reminder of what used to be there."
The old grocery has become Harvest Moon Café and The Garden Herb Shop. The eatery, which whips up great coffee drinks and smoothies, focuses on using organic herbs and ingredients to create healthy and flavorful entrees. The menu features bison burgers, wild caught salmon and omelets made with organic eggs. Their wildly creative cocktail menu also attracts discerning palates from throughout central Ohio.
CornerSmiths makes its home in the former pharmacy. The home décor store sells items that are old, new and in-between. The merchandise is an eclectic and ever-changing mix of antiques, jewelry, repurposed goods and barn sale finds.
And although residents were sad when Bolenbaugh Hardware announced it was closing after 125 years, Jarvis said people are pleased that building soon will soon house an antique shop.
Several other interesting businesses have popped up over the last few years. Georgie Emerson Vintage sells great shabby-chic, vintage and antique pieces. Fantasy Cupcake uses fresh, local ingredients to create yummy goodies in a huge array of flavors. (Think salted caramel, white chocolate raspberry and cinnamon.) From late May to mid-October, visitors can shop for locally grown produce at the Saturday morning farmer's market.
"We're evolving into a trendy place," Jarvis said. "We have a lot of independently owned businesses and restaurants."
The town also is excited about the automotive museum that is under construction on East Waterloo Street. The museum, expected to open later this year, will display the Corvette and automotive collections of Bob McDorman, a former car dealership owner and local resident.
In addition to new merchants coming in, the downtown has benefited from both a growing interest in the arts and longtime businesses that have a loyal following, said Amanda S. Lemke, president of the Canal Winchester Area Chamber of Commerce.
Shaw & Son Family Jewelers has been taking care of customers for more than 50 years, Lemke said. The jewelry store not only carries fine jewelry, it has a fun selection of costume jewelry for children and young people, Lemke said.
"There is something available for toddlers to teens, and those tending them," she said.
Another established business is Roman's Pizza, the town's oldest pizza shop. Known for its daily specials and subs, Roman's opened in Canal Winchester in 1980.
Artists are helping Canal Winchester foster an appreciation for the arts, Lemke said. Five artists share space at Studio 7.5. The studio is the site of painting classes, children's parties and art exhibits. Other artists show their work during special events throughout the spring and summer. During the Art Stroll, which takes place the second Saturday in May, artists display their work at local businesses and on the street. Designed to promote local artists, the event also includes food, music and entertainment. Children are encouraged to create art on the sidewalk with chalk.
Artists also help make Canal Winchester's summer music series special. Every performance includes an art demo, exhibit or some other arts-related feature, Lemke said.
"The artists in our area are active," she said. "They do things for the community."