Friday, March 19, 2010

A Crafty Success

By Corinne Minard

Eloise Drenner is a perfect example of the accidental businesswoman. She did not start making crafts to sell them. And she did not start selling them in hopes of one day owning a store. While she did not originally plan to own a business, she’s been the owner of Weaving Stitches (a peculiar mix of home décor store and handmade craft shop) for almost 15 years and doesn’t see that ending any time soon. “It’s pretty much my baby,” she says.

Eloise started this crafting venture by making items she loved. “I’ve always sewn and I just started making baskets,” says Eloise. While she started making baskets and stuffed creatures for the fun of it, she eventually found herself selling them at craft shows as well. Soon, she was behind a table every weekend. Eloise says, “My house was getting so full of product that I needed to get out of my house and into a store.”

To make room for her expanding business, Eloise opened her own storefront to sell her crafts. To keep up with demand, Eloise began buying from other vendors. Along with her work, she sold painted signs, dishes, candles and other forms of home décor. “It took 10 years. It wasn’t something that happened overnight. It was mostly gift items to start with and then I got really interested in home décor, enough to start helping people decorate their houses,” Eloise says.

She would eventually move to two other locations and cut shows from her schedule completely to keep up with the business. When she moved to the current location and its 4000-square-foot showroom, she asked herself what was more important: her crafts or the business. She says, “I asked God, ‘What do you want from me? What’s your purpose for me?’” Eloise found that she wanted to be able to spend more time helping customers and stopped making her own product completely.

What started as a platform for Eloise’s crafts has instead become a store that lets Eloise help people design their homes. “I love to decorate,” she says, and she loves to show people different ways to do it. The store is divided into sections and each section is filled with displays. Using furniture she’s bought from others as display pieces, she’s worked to fill the store with different examples of what their home could be.

A friendly woman who smiles while she speaks, Eloise uses her approachability to help her customers. “I want to be able to read you and know what you like, not just trying to push my product, but listen to you and know what you like and please you because if I don’t please you to start with, you won’t come back. So I listen real hard to what you like and try to get on your page,” says Eloise.

She works to keep the place homey. With the antique furniture, the oldies music and the staff that has been with her for years, she works to keep the place a reflection of herself. “This is where I can show people who I am and who I am through God. I believe God gave me this place ... and he wants me to let my light shine so you can see God through me. That’s what I believe my purpose is here,” she says.

2010 Spring Issue

Spring Flowers
Photo by Helen Alwan

Spring Stargazing

By Megan Greve and Katherine Bercik

In the Spring 2010 issue of Southeast Ohio Magazine, writer Josh Spiert explores Marietta College’s new planetarium. In the meantime, here’s a sneak peak at the spring sky and the upcoming issue.

For readers who do not have a planetarium nearby, George Eberts, Astronomy Lab Instructor and Outreach Specialist at Ohio University, says that apart from the constellations, there are two big events to look forward to in the upcoming months. Both events can be seen in any backyard.

From May through the end of summer, Venus is visible. “Venus is naked eye cool,” George says. He explains that the third brightest object in the sky (only after the sun and the moon) is Venus, and that “it is often mistaken for a UFO.” Venus will be visible in the west-northwest and can be seen close to the horizon right after sunset.

The second object to look for is Saturn, whose famous rings can be observed with “a surprisingly small telescope.” Although it will be visible throughout the summer, George says that it will be easiest for the amateur astronomer to find in April. That is when it will be nearly aligned between the bright stars Spica (in the constellation Virgo) and Regulus (in the constellation Leo) in the southeastern sky.

Other celestial objects are often visible in the night sky, but their appearances are much less predictable.

Meteoroids are any small particles of matter in the solar system. Visible as they fall into Earth’s atmosphere, they become known as meteors. Frictional heating causes them to glow, which has led to the nickname “shooting star.” A meteorite is a meteor that reaches Earth’s surface.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Porstmouth Local Helps Businesses Through Second Job

by Michael Bruton

People tend to cherish weekends and vacation time because it gives them a break from their hectic work schedules. Portsmouth local Tamela Moore loves weekends and vacation time from her full-time human resources job, because it gives her time to work more. Huh? Tamela admits that she “pretty much has two full time jobs.” She has one in HR for a government agency and the other as the sole employee of Accomplish Moore Enterprises LLC.

“I probably work about 70-80 hours a week with both jobs,” says Tamela. “One day I hope my speaking job is successful enough to be my only one.”

Through Accomplish Moore, Tamela gives keynote addresses and sponsors workshops for small businesses, non-profit organizations and government agencies. Some of her programs last two hours, while others can range up to six, depending on the needs of the client.

The speeches are primarily on proper hiring practices and consist of Tamela speaking and then answering questions. The workshops are much more interactive, though, with Tamela guiding clients through a series of activities to get to the root of any communication problems they are having.

“I lead hiring workshops, personality assessment activities, give speeches; pretty much whatever a client needs me for,” says Tamela.

Tamela runs Accomplish Moore out of her home, but she has gotten the opportunity to help clients all over Ohio and in parts of West Virginia. She is looking to expand to new territories (a potential client in Chicago is in the works), but it is difficult because Accomplish Moore relies solely on word-of mouth testimony to attract future clients. On the flipside, the business’s growth is all the more impressive without any true advertising.

“It’s so exciting. I have only been in business since 2004 and don’t advertise, but I have had a positive impact on most of the groups I have worked with so I have been successful,” Tamela says. “Cleveland loves me for some reason,” she adds with a laugh.

Although Accomplish Moore is Tamela’s passion and she hopes it one day is her sole means of income, she does not want people to get the wrong idea.

“I love my HR job, and it has helped me with my speaking career. As long as I need to, I will do both until I physically can’t handle the hours anymore.” And when she can’t, she travels.

“Traveling is what I like to do most during my off time,” Tamela says, citing Orlando and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. “I am trying to plan a fun trip for this September, and I am taking my mother for a birthday cruise in February of next year.”

But as nice as that sounds and as much as Tamela likes to travel, she just cannot resist putting her time off to productive use. “I love volunteering for my church, Bigelow Church, and I am also very active with the Scioto County Chamber of Commerce,” says Tamela. “What can I say, I just can’t help being involved in the community. It’s fun for me!”

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Truth is Out There in Pickaway County, Man pt. 2

by Emma Frankart

Leading the (para)normal life

The P.C.P.S. members are by no means experts; they have no ghost-hunting degrees or fancy equipment and they do not charge for their services. By day, Oby, Gabrielle and Kurt are students; Oby and Gabrielle attend Hocking College to study art and English, respectively, and Kurt studies information technology through the University of Phoenix online. Kevin and Scott work the night shift at Trimold Plastics in Circleville.

Because they are only amateur paranormal enthusiasts, the amount of high-tech equipment they utilize is limited. They do have an EMF detector for recording electromagnetic fields (which can indicate paranormal activity, or lack thereof), an EVP recorder which records electronic voice phenomena that cannot be heard with the naked ear, night vision cameras and a thermal imaging camera, which can visually represent changes in air temperature.

Kevin and the rest of the crew are excited to try out some of their newer equipment in an upcoming trip to the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, Ohio. Gabrielle has connections with the woman in charge of tours and is setting up an overnight investigation. But this is not her first rodeo; Gabrielle has conducted an investigation at the reformatory in the past, with her previous group. While the team saw nothing unusual in the building, their EVP recorders revealed that a ghostly presence had been in the room, unbeknownst to them.

“There was a guy that I was with in a cell, just feeling things out” she explains, “and he was trying to put the moves on me.” She refused his advances, and when she listened to the recording of their conversation the next day, she could hear a faint voice asking, “What is this guy doing?” She laughs now, to think that a ghost had been on her side, but at the same time she admits the experience is a little scary.

Searching for the strange

The P.C.P.S., on the other hand, has had only one major investigation thus far. Kevin attributes the lack of cases to the area’s general aversion to the paranormal.

“It just seems like around Pickaway County, people just don’t really wanna come out [and] say … they have a haunted house,” Kevin says. “They’re just worried about what everyone else is gonna say.” Another roadblock for the team is a lack of cooperation from the city. A few locations in Circleville are rumored to be haunted, but the city will not grant permission to investigate.

The one investigation they did conduct was last year in Tarlton, Ohio. A client claimed that he heard voices and experienced lights and an electric oven turning on without being touched. Kevin and Oby conducted the investigation, but found it inconclusive when they failed to witness any of these phenomena personally.

“The only weird thing that actually happened,” Kevin recalls, is “one window on the back side of the house that I just couldn’t stop looking at.” The light in that room was turned off when the men began walking the perimeter of the house. When they came back to that window, the light had been turned on. The house’s resident was outside with Oby and Kevin, though his son was still inside. Naturally, that alone is not enough to draw any conclusions.

“The important thing is to go into [investigations] with an open mind,” Oby says, “but at the same time, [with] a certain level of skepticism, because it’s very easy to get drawn in.” Oby and Kevin both doubt that there was any sort of true paranormal activity involved in that particular investigation. Oby chalks the homeowner’s claims up to a combination of factors, including the client’s penchant for alcohol and an open fuse box in the basement.

“We could actually feel pressure from [the fuse box],” Oby says, explaining that the EMFs that the box puts out can make people feel nauseous or even hallucinate. The ventilation system in the house was leaking as well, leading Oby and Kevin to conclude that the EMFs could seep through the house, causing strange electrical occurrences and unexplained (but imagined) sights and sounds.

The group is eager to conduct more investigations and encourages anyone with concerns about paranormal events to report them and request an investigation at the group’s Web site.

OU Grad Builds on Pizza Love

by Rachel Nebozuk

It was Spring Quarter of 1989 when John Moore, an Ohio University business major, decided he was going to open his own pizza shop. By November of that year, he was a recent graduate, a small business owner and pizza connoisseur. There aren’t many early twenty-somethings who are able to find this kind of success at such a young age, which sets John, and his popular pizza shop, Cardo’s, apart from the rest.

John spent nearly six years throughout his high school and college days working at another Cardo’s location in Waverly.

“I thought owning my own pizza business would be a dream come true,” John said.

After catching wind of his potential plans, John’s Cardo’s boss, Lloyd Harmon, suggested he consider opening a Jackson location. And without another pizza shop quite like it in the area, John’s restaurant quickly became a local favorite.

Cardo’s was originally located in a small shop on Broadway Street in Jackson County, offering only pickup and delivery. By 1997, however, the business was booming and John knew it was time to expand. Cardo’s relocated to its current location on W. South Street, near the historic Henry’s Grocery Store. The bigger restaurant allowed Cardo’s to offer a 100-seat dining area with an all-you-can-eat buffet and a private party and conference room.

In 2004, in the ultimate love story, John married one of his former Cardo’s employees, Jenny Armstrong. The pair has been living together happily ever since and despite the struggling economy, Cardo’s has been thriving as well. Last year, Cardo’s celebrated 20 years in business.

As Cardo’s became more and more popular amongst residents of Jackson, the facility wasn’t the only thing to expand; so was the menu. Today, Cardo’s offers nearly endless pizza possibilities, including 13 signature combos. One of the newest additions is the Fiesta Veggie, with green and hot peppers, green and black olives, red onion and tomato. Customer favorites include the Chicken Bacon Ranch and the Buffalo Chicken Pizza, which is complete with diced chicken drenched in Frank’s hot sauce (one of John’s favorites.)

Cardo’s also offers a slew of mouthwatering appetizers, 22 kinds of burgers and subs, eight different salads, spaghetti, lasagna and chicken parmesan. Cardo’s food, however, isn’t the only thing John prides himself on. He believes he has some of the friendliest employees who are dedicated to giving top of the line customer service.

“Sometimes I say I love my employees so much, I married one,” John said of his wife, Jenny, with a chuckle.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Athens Duo Expands Rising Business

by Danielle Zeisler

Christine Hughes wasn’t born in Athens, but she’s assimilated like the best of them.

Drawn to Athens by a treasure-trail of business success stories, Christine, along with her business partner Bob O’Neil, moved to the area roughly 10 years ago. They didn’t start by launching a restaurant, though. Instead, they sold bread. They sold so much bread that they had enough money to start their first business together, Village Bakery & Café, about eight years ago.

With the Village Bakery, Christine and Bob get to flex their organic muscles, reaching to the Athens Farmer’s Market for the majority of the restaurant’s ingredients. What doesn’t come from there comes from other farms in the area, and making an impact through serving natural food is something their adamant about. It says it right on the menu: “What you choose WILL CHANGE THE WORLD!” Joined to the Bakery is the Undercover Market, a small bazaar of local meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, along with miscellaneous trinkets such as mugs, canteens and tea-brewing products.

From the sprouts of Village Bakery grew a burgeoning organic empire. Just six years later, the partners opened the Della Zona pizza shop. The decision was simple: the two loved to make and eat homemade pizza and they wanted to share that love with the Athens community. The two restaurants are located next to one another and the two facades combine, each with hand-drawn looking business signs, to form an imposing block of natural business.

The pair continues to build its family of businesses, opening the Catalyst Café a little over a year ago. For the most part the café abandons the food aspect of the pair’s previous operations and instead focuses on espresso-based drinks, smoothies and sweets. And though these businesses are impressive on their own, what’s more impressive are the duo’s aspirations.

Their future plan is to start their own small, local farm that can produce food for their restaurants. Their goal of “Striving for the ‘Triple Bottom Line’ – measuring the success of our business based on our social, environmental, and financial impact in the local and global communities,” makes these partners a one-of-a-kind duo, and an influential part of the Athens and Southeast Ohio communities.

The Truth is Out There in Pickaway County, Man pt. 1

by Emma Frankart

For decades, southeastern Ohio has been known for its high levels of paranormal activity. Rumors abound of Ohio University’s ghosties and ghoulies, and the towns and counties throughout the region share the level of creepiness. One group, the Pickaway County Paranormal Society, aims to take on the supernatural creatures that go bump in the night.

The brainchild of Kevin Ferguson and John Finley came to life in October of 2008. Despite John leaving the group to focus on his family, the P.C.P.S. is still going strong. The team is comprised of five paranormal aficionados—Kevin, Kurt Meteer, Oby Tisdale, Scott Holbrook and Gabrielle Ward—who dedicate their spare time to the investigation of the unexplainable. Though they range in age from mid-20s to early 40s and are scattered throughout the region, these inquisitive kids-at-heart are passionate about their hobby…and with good reason.

Influential incidents

The lead investigator of the ghost-hunting unit is Kevin, a self-proclaimed expert in the subject because of his experiences with ghosts. As a child, he lived in a house where he experienced an abundance of paranormal activity: invisible footsteps on the stairs, cupboard doors that opened and closed by themselves and other activity that he now considers “typical” of hauntings. That case was never formally investigated, but the experience left him with a passion for the paranormal.

Similarly, other group members have had childhood encounters with the unexplainable.

Gabrielle also grew up in a house that seemed to be haunted; she recalls hearing the ghostly whisperings of a woman who is said to have died there. Her experience drew her first to Seekers of Spirits, a group that disbanded when its leader got married, then to the P.C.P.S. As for Kurt, the team’s lead ufology investigator, a UFO sighting on a camping trip in the ‘70s led him to become the group’s lead ufology investigator. Ufology (pronounced you-eff-ology) is the study of UFOs, or unidentified flying objects, and often associated with aliens.

The group also has a cryptozoology unit, but is still looking for a lead investigator to replace John. Cryptozoology is the study of mysterious or mythical animals; famous subjects include Big Foot and the Loch Ness Monster. In southeastern Ohio, however, mysterious animals typically turn out to be a confused bobcat rather than a werewolf in hiding.

The rest of the group members are not assigned to a unit; rather, everyone helps with every investigation. Although the group is divided into three areas, the majority of their interests seem to pool in the ghostly realm, as it is the most well-known form of paranormal activity.