Thursday, January 29, 2009

Uptown Westerville is a Place to be Neighborly

Uptown Westerville is indeed a place for people, and Kriss Rogers of Outside Envy, 15 N. State, shares....

Two of the business owners in my block had their husbands' landscaping equipment at work this morning clearing their sidewalks and by the time they were through, they ended up clearing the whole block on the west side of State Street from College to Main!

Thanks to WUMA member Déjà Vu and Hearts Content for helping out their neighbors!

Photo courtesy of Kriss Rogers. ©2009 Kriss Rogers. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Uptown Westerville is a Place for Branching Out

What's going on Uptown?

Starting this week (January 26, 2009) the City of Westerville will start its streetscaping project in Uptown Westerville.

Uptown Westerville, along State, Main, and College, will be getting new trees (Ginkgo, Lilac, and Crabapple), benches, bike racks, and improvements over the next few weeks.

Crews will be working in small increments a block at a time, so pedestrian and vehicle traffic should not be overly impeded.

For more here!

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Uptown Westerville is a Place to Warm Up This Winter

Debbie Mitchell of Serendipity, 33 E. College, reports that Serendipity is now featuring a selection of blended teas.

Debbie tells us the teas (both classic and herbal blends) are becoming so popular, she's decided to add a tea bar.

From coffees to hot chocolate to teas, fend off the wintery cold by stopping by Serendipity for a cozy, steaming beverage!

Uptown Westerville is a Place to Be Kind

Recently, when Uptown Westerville merchants and friends found out that regular Uptown dog walker Jim Fletcher suddenly had no dog, something started to happen...

Lin Rice of ThisWeek Community Newspapers Westerville edition tells the story:

Uptown Merchants Give a Canine Surprise

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 2:45 PM


ThisWeek Staff Writer

For years, Jim Fletcher and his German shepherds have been a daily part of Uptown Westerville.

Each morning, Fletcher and Klair, a 13-year-old East German shepherd, could be seen walking along State Street, stopping for biscuits at DJ's Feed Store, accompanied by Urman, a West German shepherd owned by Fletcher's daughter.

Fletcher has been raising and training pedigreed shepherds for about 30 years and was never without a dog --until Aug. 25 when Klair passed away. A month ago, when Fletcher's daughter moved into a new home with a fenced yard, Urman returned to his family.

For the first time in his life, Fletcher was without a canine companion.

"We walked the city streets for two to five miles every day of the year. Klair was always safe to approach, a true treasure," Fletcher said. "When my daughter came for Urman, I was a little sick with the flu -- I was a little lost as to what to do with the day."

Bill Rohrbaugh, who works at DJ's Feed Store, said Fletcher's absence was strongly felt around the holidays.

"It was kind of a constant here. We'd have officer (Mike) Beekman and Jim in every day, and when I got Jim on the phone, he didn't really even want to talk about it," Rohrbaugh said.
Once Rohrbaugh told Beekman about Fletcher's situation, however, the officer procured a phone number for a woman who was selling shepherd pups.

"The pups were selling for $500 and we told the owner our story and she said she'd give one up for $250," Rohrbaugh said. "That's when it took off -- we had a customer here in the store at the time who heard what we were up to, and she pulled out $20 on the spot and told us to put it toward the dog."

Word began to spread around town, and within 36 hours, customers and merchants from Uptown Westerville had donated more than enough to buy the pup, Rohrbaugh said. The pup was delivered to the feed store on Friday, Jan. 9.

"I called up Jim and gave him kind of a coaxing white lie to get him here. I said there was a fellow with a new shepherd pup who was wondering if anyone could tell him a little about the breed," Rohrbaugh said. "He agreed to come over, and we had as many people as we could who had contributed waiting here to meet him."

"They did pull quite a surprise on me," Fletcher said.

Waiting for the trainer was a 20-week old, gangly, 44-pound American German shepherd named Benjamin.

"The dog that was given to me was an American dog, and I've shared my contempt about the American breed of shepherd with lots of folks before," Fletcher said. "I really had to pray about that. God was telling me that this wasn't about me or the dog, but about the gift. He was telling that I'd been given this pup and I needed to love him."

In a letter written to Fletcher, Beekman said he also believes God provided the opportunity to help someone in need.

"Life has taught me that respect, caring and love must be shared, for it's only through sharing that friendships are born," Beekman wrote. "Many were born last week; I am not sure who was more blessed by this event, but I know for many, such as I, God's timing was perfect."

Fletcher said although he has always been somewhat discriminating about dogs with no pedigree, he has found a new friend.

"I'm so grateful, and he's such a special little guy," Fletcher said. "He's very sweet. He has a great temperament and he bonded with me immediately."

"Monday, Jim came in with Benjamin and picked up two biscuits, like he always has," Rohrbaugh said. "It felt like things were back to normal. People haven't stopped talking about it since."
Fletcher is back to walking through Uptown every day. The caring nature of his community will stick with him for the rest of his life, he said.

"All of these people, they came together for a common cause," he said. "Many of them were people I didn't know. The generosity of the common man, it is an uplifting thing."

For pictures of Jim and Benjamin, visit ThisWeek Westerville online.

Uptown Westerville is a Place for The Uptown Gift Card

The current issue of Westerville Magazine features a story by Anna Gerber about The Uptown Gift Card.

The Uptown Gift Card is welcomed and sold at 17 select Uptown Westerville merchants:

It's a great way to wrap Uptown Westerville and give a future memory to your favorite people!

The Westerville Uptown Merchants Association and its Members encourage you to Buy at Home!

Here's the article:

Keeping it Local

Uptown Merchants introduce electronic gift card

By Anna Gerber

In an effort to create more recognition of Westerville businesses and encourage residents to shop locally, the Westerville Uptown Merchants Association (WUMA) has introduced the Uptown Westerville Gift Card.

The electronic card launched Oct. 31 and can be used at any of the 17 participating Uptown Westerville merchants, most of which are on State Street between College Avenue and Home Street. Cards can be purchased in any denomination at all of the participating merchants, and they can be reloaded when their balance is low.

The association has been discussing the possibility of starting a gift card program for more than a year.

“We wanted to go forward with it this year so we could have it for the holidays,” says Kriss Rogers, owner of Outside Envy, a gift store on North State Street specializing in outdoor and patio décor.

After looking at other places in the region that successfully implemented a gift card program, WUMA decided to use the town of Hudson as a model. The Hudson gift card launched in 2002 and was the first citywide gift card in the United States. Today, more than 70 local businesses, shops and restaurants participate in Hudson’s gift card program.

“It’s something really different for us. It puts us in the same league as Easton and other malls, and gives us more of an identity,” Rogers says. Rogers took over the project after its initial stages. The merchants association paid for the initial setup of the program and Uptown merchants can enroll in the program for free. Other retailers can enroll for a small fee. All merchants are required to pay a minimal monthly fee. Merchants can run the electronic gift card on a credit terminal that can integrate the gift card software or online through a “virtual” terminal.

The merchants association hopes to piggyback on the growing popularity of gift cards to bring attention to the Uptown Westerville business community. In the struggling economy, the card could also help keep dollars in Westerville. During the holidays, WUMA encouraged local companies to consider giving the cards as part of their client or staff gift programs.

As in Hudson, the association would like to add as many of the restaurants and businesses that make up Uptown Westerville as they can.

“We plan to add many more merchants as we move forward,” Rogers says.

For more information on the Uptown Westerville Gift Card, visit, or call 614-895-3689.

Anna Gerber is a contributing writer for Westerville Magazine.


These Uptown Westerville Merchants both accept and sell The Uptown Gift Card.

▪ A Gal Named Cinda Lou
▪ Amish Originals Furniture Co.
▪ Captivating Canines
▪ Déjà Vu
▪ Flowers by Doris
▪ The Dog Joint
▪ Hey Diddle Diddle
▪ It's All In The Name
▪ Java Central
▪ Joe's Service Automobile Repair
▪ Lola Belle Boutique
▪ Meza
▪ Morgan's Treasure
▪ Outside Envy
▪ Ruth Reed Antiques
▪ Serendipity Ice Cream & Coffee House
▪ Westerville Bike Shop

Editor's Note: Since publication of this article, the list of businesses that accept and sell The Uptown Gift Card has changed. There are now 17 businesses; The Dog Joint and Hey Diddle Diddle both accept and sell the gift card, while Gallery 202 does not.

Appearing in Westerville Magazine, January/February 2009

Cover image courtesy of Westerville Magazine ©2009 Columbus City Scene. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Uptown Westerville is a Place for Know-How

Amish Originals Furniture Co. January eNews features a winter furniture care reminder:

As our furnaces and fireplaces warm our homes these winter months, just a reminder that keeping your beautiful wood furniture beautiful is a matter of... creating atmosphere!

Click here to learn about the simple things you can do to maintain the beauty of your furniture.

And, if you'd like to sign up to recieve Amish Originals online eNews, contact Amish Originals at

Amish Originals Furniture Co., 8 & 38 N. State, Westerville, Ohio, 614.891.6257

Uptown Westerville is a Place for Uptown Cigar Company

At Uptown Cigar Company in Uptown Westerville, Mike Daffin and Roy Lawson are always rolling out the welcome mat!

Lingering encouraged! Featuring a relaxing atmosphere with comfy chairs, television, regular social events, and, of course, a broad, varied selection of fine cigars and accessories, Uptown Cigar Company is a Westerville favorite.

Click here to visit Uptown Cigar online or visit in person at 33 N. State Street. Click here to contact Roy or Mike online or call 614.392.2302.

Uptown Westerville is a Place for Understanding a Culture

In 1992, Amish Originals Furniture Co. opened in the old State Theatre at 8 N. State Street in Uptown Westerville with a new idea: reach out to northeastern Ohio's Amish community to provide a custom-crafted solid wood furniture selection that fits customers' homes and lives.

Recently, New York Times reporter Glenn Rifkin interviewed Amish Originals Furniture Co. founder, Doug Winbigler to take a look at how, like any community, the Amish community is finding ways to adapt to changing times.

To read the actual article online, click here or just read below....

January 8, 2009

The Amish Flock From Farms to Small Businesses


The Amish, the religious sect that has determinedly kept the modern world at bay, have been leaving a quiet life of farming for jobs in small businesses — all the while trying to balance their own values with the culture of the marketplace.

“Their whole intent is to not be caught up in the hustle and bustle of the modern world,” said John Swaffer, advertising manager at the Keim Lumber Company, a lumber mill in Charm, Ohio.
The Amish move into the world of commerce has been more out of necessity than desire. Over the last 16 years, the Amish population in the United States — mostly in Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana — has nearly doubled, to 230,000, and the decreasing availability and increasing cost of farmland has forced many of these agrarian families, especially the younger generation, to gravitate to small business as their main source of income.

The businesses, which favor such Amish skills as furniture-making, quilting, construction work and cooking, have been remarkably successful. Despite a lack of even a high school education (the Amish leave school after the eighth grade), hundreds of Amish entrepreneurs have built profitable businesses based on the Amish values of high quality, integrity and hard work. A 2004 Goshen College study reported that the failure rate of Amish businesses is less than 5 percent, compared with a national small-business default rate that is far higher. (According to a federal study, only two-thirds of all small-business start-ups survive the first two years and fewer than half make it to four years.)

And these businesses have often partnered with non-Amish entrepreneurs to sell their wares to the public.

Doug Winbigler of Amish Originals Furniture Company, a retailer in Westerville, Ohio, has witnessed the Amish transition since he opened in 1992. “The change today is unbelievable,” said Mr. Winbigler, who is not Amish but buys his furniture from 75 Amish craftsmen in northern Ohio. “When we started, there was a hesitance because this was still a small industry and they wondered how we would treat them and represent them. They were concerned that they would be exploited. Today it has become more of a business and from a small-business angle, people are people. There are good and bad in every bunch.”

Many Amish have dealt with the collision of modern business technology and old world values by keeping their home and work lives completely separate. Though they still drive horses and buggies, remain off the power grid and wear simple, handmade clothing, some are using computers and power tools and talking on cellphones at their jobs.

Mr. Swaffer, of Keim, said that several Amish employees walk around the mill with Bluetooth cellphones in their ears, but the phones are owned by Keim and the workers shut them off when they leave work. “You won’t likely see someone on a horse and buggy talking on a cellphone,” he added.

Keim’s 120,000-square-foot showroom uses the latest computer technology and software. Given that the company’s general manager and most of its department managers are Amish, Keim had to go through a lengthy transition to get its workers to feel comfortable with the new technology.

“As a company, Keim didn’t want to violate the Amish principles,” Mr. Swaffer said. “Our owner, Bill Keim, shares the same principles, and there was a desire not to offend anyone. So it took a couple of years of education to get everybody on board.”

Kenny Troyer, who is Old Order Amish, straddles both worlds. He is the co-founder and a board member of Amish Naturals, a start-up in Holmesville, Ohio, that makes pasta, granola and sauces from Amish recipes. His co-founder, David Skinner Sr., is not Amish.

Mr. Troyer grew up on a farm without electricity, automobiles, telephones or television. His home is still without these modern conveniences but he is comfortable using a phone and computer at work. He does not drive but is willing to ride in a car. He acknowledges that some Amish churches grapple with collision of the old and the new and will not allow their members to use a phone or ride in a car, even at work. “Our community is a little more liberal,” Mr. Troyer said.

In a culture that puts a premium on families staying at home and working together on the farm, young Amish are increasingly leaving to take jobs outside the home. In a community for which time stood still in the 19th century, such changes are significant.

“For the Amish community in North America, the move from farming to small business is really a mini-industrial revolution,” said Donald B. Kraybill, a professor and senior fellow at the Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabethtown College in Pennsylvania. “This is the most important and consequential change they’ve experienced since they came to North America in the 18th century.”

Professor Kraybill, who co-wrote “Amish Enterprise: From Plow to Profits,” estimates that more than half of Amish households now earn their primary income from small business rather than farming and in some Amish settlements (there are more than 400 different settlements in North America), the percentage of households earning their income from nonfarming commerce is over 90 percent.

“It is a dramatic change,” Professor Kraybill said. “It impacts the family and exposes them to the concept of competition and the need to use technology to be able to compete effectively.”
Professor Kraybill said he did not have data on how Amish businesses were faring in this current economy. He said he had heard that some had laid off employees and cut back hours but he knew of no business that had closed in the last six months. “I doubt if many will,” he said, because “the church usually comes in and takes over failing businesses before they fail.”

Like other religions, the Amish have various degrees of orthodoxy. There are many different affiliations of Amish groups, from the heavily traditional Old Order to the more progressive Amish Mennonites. Each church district has its own rules about everything from dress to use of technology. Some continue to shun extensive contact with the modern world while others are more flexible and pragmatic about embracing new technologies. Generally, each Amish community has a bishop who can decide, with the community’s input, whether or not to accept changes.

Mr. Winbigler said he had learned in his 16 years in the Amish furniture business that doing business with the Amish is all about the relationships. Real friendships have formed, and Mr. Winbigler has been invited to Amish weddings, funerals and family gatherings. “We’ve seen the intimate side of the community and it has been wonderful. But as it becomes more of a business, you lose time for some of those special things.”

Inevitably, the shift toward business amounts to a tradeoff for the Amish. According to Professor Kraybill, the Amish are generally frugal, very astute businesspeople who can outbid non-Amish contractors because they are able to keep their costs low. Amish small-business owners do not pay Social Security taxes, for example, because of an exemption granted to them in 1965. The family cares for the elderly and the local church takes care of health care expenses. All this has enabled them to increase the wealth in their communities and sustain their preferred way of life.

But the Amish struggle with the impact on the family. “The family can’t work together the way they did on the farm,” Professor Kraybill said. “If there are three teenage sons, they may each be going off to a job somewhere else. The father may be going off to work as well.”

And the more they start to accept new forms of technology, the more difficult it becomes to control outside influences. “They were able to keep the mainstream industrial revolution at bay for a century and a half,” Professor Kraybill said. “Now they can’t help but be more exposed to the outside world.”

Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

Amish Originals Furniture Co. is located at 8 and 38 N. State Street in Westerville, Ohio. Call Amish Originals at 614.891.6257 or email:

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Uptown Westerville is a Place to Gain from Change at Vino Meza

Meza is making some changes in 2009 and you can benefit.
Fixture Sale! January 3 - 10, 2009

Meza features select specialty foods, beverages, and gift items --
hearth-warm and welcoming -- stop by today!

Meza . 48 N State . 614.259.3101 .

Friday, January 2, 2009

Uptown Westerville is a Place for Value at Amish Originals

40% off Holiday Decor at Amish Originals Furniture Co.
8 & 38 N. State St., 614.891.6257,
Starting January 2nd