EAST PALESTINE - A goal embraced by the Chamber of Commerce, residents and officials to revitalize the area by attracting more business to town is being realized as people are stepping up to provide retail, food and recreational opportunities.
Within the last month the Chamber has recognized the addition of six new businesses in East Palestine, and a majority of those businesses are owned and operated by women.
One woman, Carolyn Wilkovich, recently opened an antiques store at 30 West Main Street, with the help of her son, Patrick Hecking.
Wilkovich is a semi-retired school teacher who began her 37-year career in the village. She learned how to operate a business by watching her father over the years.
For 46 years she informally studied at his side as he ran the Jordan Golf Service near the former Dutch and Donna's restaurant on East Taggart Street.
"It was a family-owned business. My mother and father worked together and the kids helped. I think once that's in your blood you sort of like that," Wilkovich said.
Black Dog Antiques offers an "eclectic group" of gently used furniture-including primitive- collectibles, vintage and mid-century antiques and the name of the store is to honor the black Labrador the family had for 21 years, she explained.
She and Hecking decided to open the store after thinking it over for about a year, she said. "We've always liked antiques ... and being that there seems to be a lot of businesses opening up in East Palestine, especially female-run businesses, we felt it would be time to join and start something in the community."
Sonia Early, owner of the Early Equine Center, decided to use the 22 acres owned by her husband at 1590 Bacon Avenue for the new business after several local requests.
"I've always been into horses and I have had several people ask me numerous times (to do this). My husband had the property to do it and it kind of made sense," she said.
Mrs. Early is originally from Westmoreland County in Pennsylvania and moved to the village in 2011 after marrying Steve Early.
The center offers boarding, lessons and open riding and even functions as a lay-over station for people that are traveling with horses and want to give them a place to rest.
Future plans include holding horse shows and offering programs geared toward autistic children and those with handicaps, she said.
"You're never too young or too old to learn or start something new and exciting. If you want to see what's man-made look at a car. If you want to see what's God-made look at a horse," she said.
Other new businesses are the Next Level Indoor Sports Facility located at the corner of state Route 14 and Waterford Road, B'Sue Boutiques at 42 1/2 Garfield Street, Teno's on Taggart at 735 East Taggart Street, and The Time Zone, Fine Restored Clocks located inside Alpaca & Ewe on North Market Street.
B'Sue Boutiques owner Brenda Sue Landsdowne has said her store offers "vintage, quirky and sentimental" items. She began making her own jewelry 24 years ago with only $20, and the items were later picked up by hundreds of stores.
Customers can come to the store to browse the selection or choose from hundreds offered on the Internet as well. Jewelry making classes are also available.
Tina Parker and her fiance Robert Eno operate Teno's on Taggart, the former Dutch and Donna's restaurant. Eno said he wants people to know the restaurant that has been in the community for years is still up and running, just under a new name and new ownership.
Chamber President Don Elzer said the Chamber has been working hard to attract more businesses to the community, and it's clear those efforts are having an effect.
Businesses that start-up or relocate to the village have the advantage of visibility, reasonable rent and a friendly community, he said.
He said those businesses can be seen by the more than 1,000 people who travel through town on a daily basis. The figures were made available by a recent traffic study conducted by the Philadelphia office of the Ohio Department of Transportation.
The study indicated that more than 1,100 vehicles travel through the North Market and Main Street intersection every day, he said.
"I'm just thrilled that we have so much interest now in East Palestine and our downtown stores are starting to fill up with people willing to take a chance and better our community," Wilkovich said.