By Jamison Cocklin
A stroll down South Main Street here reveals a small law firm, a diner, a theater and even a roundabout to keep traffic at bay and flowing smoothly down a stretch that sometimes can grow just a bit crowded on weekends.
A renovation project, completed last year at a cost of more than $1 million, saw to it that the streets are clean, the lights are modern and the sidewalks are fit for walking. Coupled with the brick side streets off South Main, the road and the businesses that line it give the area a small-town charm.
For visitors, it should come as no surprise, then, that South Main is home to no fewer than seven boutique stores, selling some form of antiques, furniture or other crafts culled from small towns across the state and the country.
Ann and Larry Canale, who moved to Columbiana from Canfield about 10 years ago, are well aware of the street’s appeal, and at their store, Ann’s Attic Antiques & Furniture, there’s no shortage of such trinkets, keepsakes and one-of-a-kind items.
In fact, there are thousands, laid out with care and attention to detail, across more than 6,000 square feet they decided to lease in June 2012.
“We try to be fair with the prices and research all of our products,” Larry said.
“I think that’s why we have regular customers,” Ann was quick to add. “They like to know where something has been, or who owned it — they want to know the story behind it.”
Aside from their stock and the stories they recall about some of it, the Canales’ venture into the antiquing business is a peculiar one.
“One day, she came home from work and I said, ‘We’ve got to move,’” Larry said.
It started in 2008, after Larry, a semiretired insurance agent, had amassed a small pile of antiques for his office at a small rental house near Chase Bank on Main Street. Soon, the couple decided to open up a storefront there, as well.
But the pile grew from a couple dozen antiques to thousands, and the Canales moved into a 1,600-square-foot space just down the street. Their operation kept growing, though, and last summer they moved into their current location at 8 South Main St.
At one point, 8 South Main housed three businesses: A cafe; Kitchen Solutions, which moved to a different location; and another the Canales are unsure of.
In any event, they decided “to use every inch” and after opening the store front last summer, they opened up the rear of the store for furniture, a thrift store and even a Christmas room where vintage and antique bulbs sell “like crazy” year-round.
“It’s always been antiques. They’ve always been in Columbiana,” said Shirley Strishock, who’s sold antiques on South Main Street for 30 years now and owns The Cricket Box across the street from the Canales. “The town is known for that. Some shops even rent space to dealers,” she said.
The Canales own all of their stock. Most recently, they’ve sold a child-sized baby grand piano, antique lighting, a jukebox and even pinball machines. They attend estate auctions, accept invitations from those in the community to purchase certain items, and they frequently travel south to out-of-the-way spots for rare pieces.
On display, greeting customers as they walk through the door, is a purple dress made of polished cotton worn by Larry’s great-grandmother at the turn of the 20th century. It isn’t for sale, though.
Vintage jewelry, old-school tin beer signs advertising Coors and Busch hang on the walls. China of all types lines the store and sits in mahogany cabinets and some other furniture that Larry has restored.
Pieces are priced anywhere from a few dollars to a few hundred dollars.
Ann recently retired as a second-grade teacher at Lordstown Elementary, and the couple’s goal is to keep growing the store as they focus more of their downtime on making it a better experience for customers.
“We like to say enter as a customer, leave as a friend,” Ann said. “It’s so easy to make friends in this business. People see something their grandmother used to have and they like to stay and talk about things.”