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Ohio City

Locally owned shops create a unique flavor in the West Side Market District

by Howard Primer

(Plain Press, June 2011) The owner of Salty Not Sweet wasn’t sour on her location near the Beachland Ballroom on the East Side; it’s just that Ohio City was where she wanted to be all along.

“When this space came up, it was ‘See ya Collinwood.’ This is where I’d rather be,” said Candra Squire, owner of the store, which sells handcrafted goods, vintage items and is a letterpress studio.

Salty Not Sweet, 2074 W. 25th St., is one of several locally owned shops to open or expand in Ohio City in recent months.

For Squire, it’s a return home. She grew up on Bridge Avenue before moving to Portage County in first grade. Even living in Medina now, she didn’t hesitate when asked about picking a location for her store.

“It’s the only borough in Cleveland I want to be in,” she said.

Salty, as it is called by some of its followers, started out at crafts shows. It opened as a permanent storefront in Collinwood in March 2010. After a space opened in a five-unit building owned by United 25th Building LLC, about a block south of the West Side Market, Squire closed the East Side location in December.

Her new dwelling is significantly larger than her previous location. The old store was 375 square feet and the new one is about 1,100. She also expects to get more foot traffic than the East Side location.

Squire funded Salty herself. She and her partner Melissa Major sell locally made soaps, candles, T-shirts, paper goods, new jewelry, magnets, greeting cards and vintage items. A letterpress allows them to custom-make paper products such as invitations.

Salty is located between Voodoo Monkey Tattoo (which used to occupy the space Salty is in) and Room Service, which also sells homemade goods and jewelry. Their side of the block also includes West 25th Furnishings, H&R Block and the soon-to-be Campbell’s Popcorn Shop, which is expanding from its West Side Market location.

Campbell’s and Salty are two of six stores to receive a grant aimed at revitalizing Ohio City. Charter One Bank put in $40,000, Lutheran Hospital contributed $10,000, and they held a contest to distribute the funds.

Prospective recipients were asked to show experience, detailed plans, business projections and explain how their stores would draw people and improve the walk-ability of the neighborhood. The other winning stores out of the 29 that applied were Fit Personal Studio and Yoga, Joy Machines Bike Shop, the Urban Orchid flower shop and SOHO-Southern Hospitality restaurant.

The stores received grants ranging from $3,000 to $15,000. They’re part of a $130,000 investment by Charter One leading up to the West Side Market’s 100th anniversary next year.

“It was driven by the West Side Market and the centennial anniversary, to help drive the economy in the neighborhood,” Charter One Vice President and Director of Public Affairs Carrie Carpenter said.

Jennie Doran, manager and associate buyer for Room Service has worked with Squire in the past. She said Room Service moved from the Gordon Square Arts District in November 2010 for many of the reasons Squire did.

“We knew this was going to be an incredible development. We’re really excited about the project.  It’s a harbinger of some change. We want to promote and grow Ohio City. It’s an artisan community,” said Doran, who lives in Ohio City.

Although Room Service doesn’t sell as many crafts and not all of its products are locally designed, the duo of variety stores helps give shoppers a reason to stay in the neighborhood for longer than an hour’s worth of meter time.

Doran said discussions are being held to make parking more accessible. Salty, which is on the west side of West 25th, has about a dozen meters within a one-block walk that are 25 cents an hour. A shopping center directly across West 25th has a parking lot, but several stores on the west side of the street have signs warning their customers not to park in it.

With the opening of restaurants such as Crop Bistro bringing 1,000 seats to the neighborhood, Ohio City could run into the problem of not having enough spaces for all the cars the new businesses would bring in.

Eric Wobser, executive director of the Ohio City Near West Development Corporation, said the issue is being addressed. A parking structure is an option, but it would be three to five years in the offing once it’s financed.

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