Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Uptown Westerville is a Place for Main Street Holiday Features

Congratulations to WUMA members, A Gal Named Cinda Lou (20 N. State) and Hey Diddle Diddle (38 N. State) for their feature stories in the Columbus Dispatch on November 30th!

Hey Diddle Diddle, 38 N. State St.

Stacy Roberts celebrates Black Friday, but not because a horde of customers floods her specialty babies and toddlers boutique. It's because she opened her store eight years ago on that day in Uptown Westerville. Despite a troubled economy this year, she's still in business. And she intends to be around for another eight.

"When I hear bad news about the economy, I think, 'What changes can I make to keep myself out of a bad position?' " Roberts said as she arranged a display of plush animals that transform into toddler pillows and blankets. "You can let it bog you down and keep you up at night, but I'd rather think positively and figure out what I can do to make positive changes."

This sunny disposition of hers is what attracts many regular customers to her store. The high-end baby clothes and accessories by lines such as Petunia Pickle Bottom and Hartstrings are favorites of many of her clients and a draw that has kept Roberts in business when large national chains are reporting declining sales.

"People want that extra attention and are happy when they can come in and find that one special gift to buy because they plan to spend less and want the gift to be more significant," she said.

"Sales have been flat, but I do think it will get better because we're headed in the right direction."

A Gal Named Cinda Lou, 20 N. State St.

A flood of warm, happy childhood memories greets many of the customers who walk into the small, retro-vintage shop on N. State Street. Those feelings and low prices have been a key consumer draw for the mother-daughter duo who opened the store two years ago.

Debbie Bennati and daughter Julia named the store after Debbie's grandmother. The long, narrow store is filled with records, toys, magazines, furniture, clothing and jewelry from the 1950s, '60s and '70s.

Although sales have been down in the past two weeks, Debbie Bennati said that because her store is a resale shop, it actually has benefited from the downturn in the economy. But, she said, the slowing sales make her wonder whether it's the economy or the weather that has kept customers away.

"Things aren't dire; this is not going to be a make-or-break year, but I am worried because sales have slowed," she said as classic rock played throughout the store. "People are scared a little bit because they keep hearing how bad a year it's going to be.

"I just hope that people remember about us small-business owners. ... We work hard and don't make much money, but we do it for the pure joy."

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