Now that Ohio and other states are starting to reopen stores as we navigate the murky waters between social isolation and the need for contact and commerce, my mind drifts to my three favs for Buckeye shopping. I’m talking about three merchants with bountiful Buckeye bling, apparel and fan décor–three women, three Ohio State fans, three unexpected locations: Clintonville, Powell and Lakeside Chautauqua. My fall 2019 trip to Ohio was a shopper’s delight. Let me take you on that trip.
THE FLAG LADY, CLINTONVILLE
Closest to campus, but still a mile or so north on High Street, is The Flag Lady’s Flag Store. I had set out to meet the owner Mary Leavitt because she has supplied game day flags for Brutus since the days of Kyle McQuaid’s tenure, 1987-89. My husband Paul and I drove to 4567 North High Street where Mary has had her shop since she moved it from the original on Indianola, just a few blocks from campus. With a storefront right on the sidewalk, we panicked about where to park until we saw the no-more-questions sign to park behind the store where the back door served as a friendly entry. The staff greeted us with smiles, as they did all customers.
Thankfully, Mary was in that day. She was gracious to us and reminisced about the fun she has had creating Brutus flags. What surprised me was that flags are only a part of her business. In addition to the main flag room, there was a room of seasonal decorations and a third room with Buckeye gear, which worked out well for me because I hadn’t known to pack for the blackout against Michigan State. Besides a black OSU top, I picked up some Ohio State earrings because you can never have too many Ohio State earrings!!
Mary’s staff had a miniature pond in that third room where they had set up a Pick-the-Duck game. For a $20 entry fee that went to the Buckeye Cruise for Cancer, game players all won a prize of Buckeye merchandise from the store. Everyone was a Winner! The next day, game day, we stopped by Mary’s store on the way down High Street to pick up a hot dog at their tailgate party on the High Street sidewalk. Once again, Mary greeted us warmly. The next time you are on High St, stop by to see Mary the Flag Lady for a flag, team gear, seasonal décor, or a game day hot dog, or, recycle your American flag in a special collection box. Or if you are still social distancing, order online!
MARILYN’S TWO, LAKESIDE CHAUTAUQUA
In a truly unlikely spot, Marilyn Burns has unleashed all of her Buckeye passion in the back room of a converted cottage in Lakeside Chautauqua, on Lake Erie near the Marblehead Lighthouse and within a short drive from Cedar Point. Her store, Marilyn’s Two, at 123 W. 2nd St is around the corner from the original Marilyn’s, 223 Walnut Avenue.
After Ohio State handily beat Michigan State, Paul and I headed to Lakeside for a few relaxing days at my brother Steve’s cottage. Whenever I visit there, a “must do” is Marilyn’s Two. Shoppers get their first clue about Marilyn’s fandom as they approach the cottage. There are usually a few well-placed Buckeye items on the lawn or front porch, but those items and a small display of Buckeye scarves and jewelry in the front room doesn’t prepare the shopper for that sixth and final back room which is stacked floor to ceiling with any item your Scarlet and Gray heart might desire: hats, gloves, shirts, socks, purses, cups, signs, statues, games, books, cards, table décor.
I can’t refute Marilyn’s claim that she has “the largest selection of Ohio State merchandise in the area.” I found several gifts for others and a few for myself! The tricky part about shopping in Lakeside is that during the summer months, you must pay a daily fee to enter. But the rest of the year, you can drive right in. Click here for Marilyn’s Two’s hours and contact information.
BAKER’S VILLAGE GARDEN CENTER, POWELL
If someone told you a great place to shop for Buckeye clothing is at a garden center in Powell, you might think, “Well if they really do have a few things, they are probably cheesy.” No so at Baker’s Village Garden Center, 9267 Dublin Road, where they serve the Caviar of merchandise.
I learned about Baker’s several years ago from Becki Niuman Hollenbaugh, the Pi Phi who helped me make the papier-mâché Brutus on the Pi Beta Phi lawn in 1965. Every year that I migrate back to Columbus for fall football, I now include a stop at Baker’s, where owner Donna Baker always keeps a Buckeye display of jewelry, scarves, tailgate items and scarlet and gray wreaths by the front door. Then if you meander off to the right, you’ll find hats, purses and tops that speak subtly but undoubtedly, “I’m a Buckeye fan.”
If you are like some of my girlfriends who show their loyalty by wearing the colors but not pre-printed fan gear, then Baker’s is your place. Plan to spend extra time browsing the garden center itself. Besides carrying live plants, Donna’s staff creates amazing floral table decorations and wreaths. Worth shipping home if you don’t live nearby. And if you can’t get to Ohio just yet, you can at least mail order OSU jewelry from their website. Unfortunately for those of us who live on the other side of the United States, the clothing is not featured on her on-line store. But it is, after all, mostly one or a few of a kind. Mass merchandise is not Donna’s style, nor would you want it to be!
Sally Lanyon; Paul Hawkins; Marilyn Burns.