Old things not wanted by one person become another’s treasure

Inside of antique mall

It’s funny how blogs come about. Like much business that takes place, it’s often word of mouth. Someone who knows someone who knows someone. So, this story starts when I attending a Euclid Chamber of Commerce committee meeting to organize its Amazing-Race-style scavenger hunt taking place on Sept. 9 (read this blog about how to register). Sheila Gibbons, chamber president, mentions an antique mall, Antiques & Uniques, Wickliffe, Ohio, that she likes to browse through because I had mentioned an item that I was looking for and had asked if there were any resale or thrift stores in the area (I live in Medina County and drive to Euclid for work; so, I don’t know the area well.).

This mention bubbles around in my mind for a couple of weeks. Then, one day, I think how much like an antique store HGR is. Both take items that an owner no longer wants, needs or finds useful and tries to resell them so they can be recycled or upcycled and stay out of landfills. We both try to match the right product to the right customer. We have rows and rows of items. And, our customers come in to spend hours just looking. Sometimes they take something home, and sometimes they don’t. But we get new items all the time; so, people are repeat visitors.

I decided to take a trip to Antiques & Uniques and chat with Tom Berges, who co-owns the store with his wife, Barb. Berges says, “I was the part owner and managed an antique store in Painesville with other business partners. Eventually, I moved on to start my own business.” Antiques & Uniques opened April 2015 with full inventory. Berges says that he didn’t even need to advertise to find vendors. Many of his contacts and people that he had worked with in the past opened stalls in his store. He currently has 100 vendors, and about 200 people are waiting to get in. Business has been good.

But, the connection to HGR gets even weirder. Six degrees-of-separation weird. Berges happens to be an HGR customer. He walked me through the store and pointed out the carts, desks, tables, whiteboards, shelves and lockers that he has purchased to outfit the store. He also told me that many of his vendors shop at HGR. I was introduced to Rodney who has pallets in his stall. He also has a vintage metal locker that he purchased from HGR and cleaned up to resell. Then, I met Robin, the store manager, who used to own a warehouse and bought pallet racking and pallet jacks from HGR.

After all, business is cyclical. What have you purchased from HGR to reuse? How have you put it to use?

HGR Industrial Surplus - Antiques & Uniques relationship map

HGR had two teams in Euclid’s Amazing Race and was one of the stops

amazing-raceThe Euclid Chamber of Commerce brought The Amazing Race to Euclid, Ohio, and HELP Foundation hosted team registration and the post-race celebration at its Adult Day Support Program.

I was a member of the planning committee, and HGR sent two teams to compete as well as being one of the stops on the route. Here are photos of some of HGR’s participants:

HGR Amazing Race teams
One of HGR’s teams at the front table comprised of Beth, Kim, Tina and April with Smitty on the far left
HGR's Amazing Race Team
Joe and Smitty
HGR's Amazing Race team launching marshmallows
Beth launching marshmallows to April

Tina Dick, HGR’s human resources manager, recaps some of the stops in the race: “At soccer golf at Briardale Golf Course, April Quintiliano made a new friend named Rosie while Beth Hietanen and I kicked the ball down the green. Kim Todd did an amazing job climbing the rock wall. “Ain’t no mountain high enough” for KT. It also was interesting to hear that the Cleveland Rock Gym has been part of Euclid for more than 20 years. I lived in Euclid for close to 15 years and never knew it existed; my kids would have loved it! Our Lady of Lourdes National Shrine is as beautiful as ever and was probably the nicest surprise. I had been there but my teammates never had. The NEO Sports Plant looks amazing, and chair volleyball is a blast! It would be a great event for HGR staff. HGR’s amazing showroom was new for many participants. The gift baskets, pizza and subs were a great end at HELP Foundation. Euclid Chamber did an “amazing” job putting this together. Count me in next year. We had some challenges but our team finished!”

Joe Powell, HGR’s graphic designer, who was teamed with Steve “Smitty” Smith, says, “Smitty came up limping while sprinting to the first task at Atlas Cinemas. For the rest of the race he played navigator, and I took care of the events. I couldn’t hit a free throw to save my life, but instead moved back to the three-point line and made six in a row. We were neck and neck with another team for the last task, and I had to slide a la baseball style in front of them for a second-place finish. Overall, it was a fun experience, and I saw parts of Euclid that I will revisit in future because of this.

Local businesses invest in each other

Four hands holding a house to represent good neighbors

HGR’s owners are dedicated to the Euclid community, including supporting other businesses, and they, in turn, support us. Our CMO sits on the board of the Euclid Chamber of Commerce, and I am on a committee to organize the chamber’s Amazing Race fundraiser taking place this Friday. I write the monthly “Hit the Ground Running” column in both The Euclid Observer and The Collinwood Observer to showcase area manufacturers, the products they make and their contributions to the workforce. We also are very involved with Euclid High School’s S.T.E.M. program and Robotics Club. In 2014, we bought our building and have invested in renovations and improvements.

To continue our support of the community, I have gone out and met with many amazing organizations and businesses in the area and blogged about many of them, such as HELP Foundation, The Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame and Museum, NEO Sports Plant, The Twelve Literary and Performing Arts Incubator, artists Jerry Schmidt and Larry Fielder of The Waterloo Arts District, Euclid Historical Society and Museum, Euclid Art Association, Euclid Beach Park Museum, and Our Lady of Lourdes National Shrine.

There are two other businesses that I recently discovered. One is newer; and one is an institution that has been in the neighborhood since the 1970s. If you are looking for a good cup of coffee in the area, where do you go? No Starbucks. I found myself driving to Speedway for a cup to go. Then, Tami Honkala of HELP Foundation told me about an Arabica tucked away in the back of a medical building off a side street. They have no website, no sign, no advertising. No one but the tenants of the medical building know they exist even though they have been at that location since 2012.

I headed over to the Euclid Office Plaza at Richmond Road and Euclid Avenue for a look. I met the owner, Ronny, and got excited that I could get a mocha or a latte. The only problem was: NO DECAF! I stopped drinking caffeine years ago and only order decaf espresso. They don’t have it. This is a coffee house that is not for sissies. They also have food, including a salad bar, and offer catering services.

The longstanding local health food store, Webers, at 18400 Euclid Avenue, is owned by Bill Weber and his daughter-in-law Clara Weber. They carry many of the products I regularly buy on Amazon and eBay. Clara even was willing to special order some products they didn’t have in stock. When I shared with her where I worked, she told me that they were HGR customers and had purchased a forklift that they regularly use to unload inventory from delivery trucks.

What comes around goes around. It’s always good practice to be a good neighbor.