Archives for December 2012

The Boston: 3 Levels of Shopping

An adventure in shopping, The Boston, at 121 N. Main St., in downtown Urbana, features a wide array of booths maintained by more than 60 independent vendors on three floors.

The store, open seven days a week, is packed with treasures – antiques, vintage clothing, collectibles, art, musical instruments and modern home décor – and is arranged in special sections, such as the Paris Boardwalk, designed as a street scape with storefronts.

It’s all managed by owner Gina Mokry, who infuses The Boston with her energy and optimism. She tells me, “When I opened The Boston (in 2010), I said to our vendors in my first meeting with them, ‘There is no recession. Urbana is booming.’” The Boston has been operating successfully since.

Linda Cheney welcomes customers to The Boston, modeling a dress she fashioned out of curtains. By the way, the antique sleigh isn’t merely for decoration. It’s for sale.

About two years ago Gina came to town from Texas to visit her daughter, Kristie Herlong, and grandson, Sam. At the time, Kristie had a store, The Green Owl, on E. Court St.

“Immediately, I fell in love with Urbana,” Gina says. “And here I am.”

An Incubator for Success

Kristie helped her mom open the business and moved The Green Owl into a room on the second floor. Kristie has since moved again to open a new store up Main Street, Dorcey’s. Another Boston vendor – Isaac Cohn, a Graham High School senior – joined her at Dorcey’s. But that’s for another blog post.

Gina considers The Boston a business incubator – an affordable way for her vendors to enter the market and grow. And it’s a great way to offer customers a broad selection of shopping treasures on three floors, under one roof.

For Christmas Shopping

Linda Cheney of The Boston says the store is all about helping Christmas surprises happen. She enjoys assisting children find presents for their moms and dads – within their budget.

She adds that they’ve also been known to pass Christmas gift suggestions left by women to their husbands (or vice versa). They’ll even put a fictitious name on the hold slip tagged to a present that’s to be picked up later – just to throw off the recipient.

About The Boston

Address: 121 N. Main St., Urbana
Phone: 937-652-0410
Facebook: The Boston
Hours:   Open 7 days a week
Mon.-Thur., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Fri., 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Sat., 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sun., 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Coffee: It’s on the house!

Today’s bonus: Gina was an interior decorator when she lived in Arkansas. One of her clients was Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart is commonly considered the bane of small-town retail. However, Gina says, “Wal-Mart is not our competition.” She’s confident that the locally-owned shops of downtown Urbana offer distinctively valuable merchandise and service that just can’t be compared with what the big box stores offer.

Shopping Local for the Holidays

Monument Square, Urbana, Ohio, aglow with the Christmas spirit.

The other day, as I completed a project for one of my freelance writing clients, Vince Guaraldi’s jazz instrumentals from A Charlie Brown Christmas played in the background on Spotify. Old familiar music like that takes me back – say, to the night that Charlie Brown first bemoaned the commercialization of Christmas on national TV, and I was 8 years old.

Another vision from my Christmases past is the enchanting, mechanized window displays of the Wolf & Dessauer department store, a retail institution that dated back to the 1890s in downtown Fort Wayne. Those displays ranked high among local Christmas traditions – until L.S. Ayres bought W&D’s, and Christmas shopping got carted off to the malls.

The good news is that Champaign County, Ohio, offers plenty of opportunities to shop at distinctive, locally-owned stores that offer quality merchandise, personal service and the fun of exploring.

When you shop at these stores, your money stays in Champaign County to promote the local economy.  And there’s no having to search for your car when it’s time to go home.

In the next several Champaign Uncorked! blog posts I will feature some of the many locally-owned businesses that offer pleasant shopping experiences at Christmas and throughout the year.

Check Out Chamber Checks

The Champaign County Chamber of Commerce also offers a solution for those of you who don’t like to shop or have someone who’s difficult to shop for: Chamber Checks.

Call the Chamber – 937-653-5764 – to find out more about Chamber Checks, which can be purchased any time of year in denominations of $10, $25 and $50, with no service charge or purchasing fee. They work like a gift certificate and can be used for purchases at more than 100 retail shops, restaurants, salons and other service providers throughout Champaign County (a list of participating businesses is provided with each Chamber Check).

Until next time, what are your favorite local shopping venues?