Columbus, Ohio USA
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Dis 'n' Data
By Margaret Marten, Editor
January/February 2013


Aesthetic, a new home décor and furniture store, opened in the former Flora Home & Garden location at 988 N. High St. (next to The Lamp Shade) in late October. Aesthetic was previously located in a 150-square-foot Clintonville storefront that opened in December 2011 and operated for nine months. Co-owner and manager Adam Johnson, 29, a.k.a. Adam Christopher, said Aesthetic Interiors was then famous for being the smallest shop in Columbus. Moving into the current 1100-square-foot space in the Short North was quite a jump, allowing Johnson and partner, Johnathan Sosebee, 30, to expand their inventory and branch into home furnishings. With experience in visual merchandising, and some international travel, both have developed a decidedly aesthetic worldview. They refer to their inventory of apothecary and home furnishings as “a carefully curated blend of goods gathered from around the globe.” Plenty of lighting fixtures, which they specialize in, and smaller items – candles, soap, barware, all-natural cleaning products – round off the curatorial experience. Johnson, who grew up in Washington Court House, Ohio, with six siblings, said he developed a love of decorating from his mother: “I was fortunate enough to have a nice home, full of nice things, and a mother who knew how to put it together.” Work in visual management with Stein Mart and Macy’s over the ensuing years was a natural choice for Johnson, as was his decision to open his own home décor business after Macy’s laid him off last winter. Aesthetic is open seven days: Monday through Saturday 11 to 6, Sunday 12 to 5. Call 614-216-1698 or visit for more information.

Some of you may be surprised to see Chris Turner’s youthful countenance through the window of Jerry’s Barbershop, the longstanding cut-and-shave business at 1249 N. High St. The newly named Turner’s Barber Shop & Shaving Parlor opened in October after Jerry Langel sold his business. Langel passed away from lung cancer on September 21 at the age of 73 after running the shop for over 45 years. The tradition of barbershops has not changed much over time. Haircuts for guys are still in demand, of course, and the straight-razor shave remains popular. Turner, 25, began work in the barber trade five years ago after graduating from Ohio State College of Barber Styling. He spent three years with The Little Barber Shop in the University District at Lane and High before opening here. A native of Coshocton, he came from a large tightly knit family of farmers who settled over a century ago in that region, some still living in the original family homestead. That old-time feel apparently rubbed off on the young Turner, who is an antique collector. The room in his shop is set in Victorian style to reflect the tradition of old-time barbering in a relaxed atmosphere “where guys can come in and just talk.” It’s about looking back to a time when things were slower. “I always enjoyed that kind of atmosphere. I always wanted to be a barber, not a stylist,” he said. “People ask me like, ‘you’re a stylist?’ and I’m ‘no, no, I’m a barber.’ It’s not that I’m offended; I’m just saying it’s two different things. We do more just guys. Guys and shaving.” There’s cosmetology school and there’s barber college. Becoming a barber means (among other things) learning the straight razor shave. Turner says it’s relaxing for men. “It’s more of a luxury, a pampering.” One could say it gives the “guy” experience a softer edge. “It’s a men’s atmosphere, not a macho guy atmosphere; it’s relaxation.” Turner’s Barber Shop & Shaving Parlor is open from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day except Wednesday and Sunday. Saturday’s hours are from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Chris can be reached at 614-560-1238.

Another venerable shop closed in 2012 after more than 30 years in the Short North. Kathryn’s Vintage Wedding Gowns & Fashions, owned by Cathy Conklin, operated next door to Jerry’s Barbershop for 32 years at 1247 N. High St. Conklin, 62, recovering from bronchial pneumonia when I spoke with her over the telephone on December 29, said that she decided to close the shop last May for a number of reasons including poor health and a bad economy, but emphasized that she ran a very successful business. “I had wonderful clientele. I used to have them from all over the country, some from Europe and Paris. Collectors would buy, other dealers would buy. I had some wonderful vintage wedding dresses and clothing.” Her inventory was higher-end, not blue jeans, not T-shirts. “I sold things from the ‘20s, ‘30s,’ ‘40s and ‘50s, more like movie star, glamour, red-carpet type. And collectable clothing, like ‘40s suits and hats, and of course the costume jewelry, shoes, scarves, the whole nine yards.” But the economy hit and things changed. “The people who used to fly out, don’t fly out anymore,” she explained. “The economy really put a crunch on things.” Conklin began her retail career selling antiques and vintage clothing from Country Store Antiques in Grandview, which she opened after graduating from OSU where she majored in fine arts. She and her husband later bought a house in Victorian Village and decided to move the shop into the Short North near High and Fourth, later relocating to 1247 N. High. Jerry Langel of Jerry’s Barbershop next door naturally became her friend. “Yes, we were very friendly to each other. We used to help each other out,” she said. “He would have his window washer do my window. He was a nice guy. He had followers. He had people who came in with the fathers and the sons and then the grandsons would come in and have their haircuts.” Conklin adopted the name Kathryn for her business when she first started out in Grandview. There was an existing sign for a beauty shop, Kathryn’s with a ‘k,’ and she figured since her name was Cathryn, she would use it. “It was a beautiful pink neon sign that lit up and worked. You know, those old ones from from the ‘50s.” Her interest in vintage can be traced back even earlier. “I always wore vintage clothing since I was in high school,” she said. “I’ve always collected and worn it. It was popular, and I felt glamourous in it.” Although her art career after college was short-lived – she created murals for the Agora, Fertile Turtle, and an apple logo for Seva Restaurant – everything about her life work, “selling the vintage and the bridal and everything,” is something she considers an art form in itself. “I used to have lines of people waiting to come in on a typical Saturday,” said Conklin. “People would come for different things like weddings, plays, theater groups, people who collected and just liked to wear the ‘50s or ‘60s. Or people with parties, you know, they have those theme parties or those murder mysteries where they have to dress like a ‘30s movie star. I mean just a little bit of everything.” Conklin is sad about closing but happy to have lived the life of a glamour girl for so long.

Dionte Johnson, 26, opened King’s Rowe Gallery, a streetware boutique, on October 20 at 1104 N. High, where Artie B’s: Rock Star Stylists operated for a couple years before closing in October 2011, a few doors down from Surly Girl Saloon. Johnson, a former football player (for OSU and the Arizona Cardinals) and son of New England Patriots coach Thomas “Pepper” Johnson, said athletics is his passion and football is definitely his first love, but he is now “living out his dream” in the fashion industry. “I’ve always known that I wanted to be involved in some way with this culture in fashion,” Johnson said. So when his athletic career came to a halt after an ankle injury four years ago, he was prepared. “I’ve been sketching clothes and drawing designs since as long as I could hold a pen, pretty much,” he said. With a degree in business and marketing from OSU’s Fisher College, a talent for design, and a love of music, Johnson gradually developed his King’s Rowe apparel brand and began selling the streetware fashion online with the help of hip-hop personalities Kreg & Dez. King’s Rowe reflects the hip-hop street culture. It is also the name of a Columbus street, Kingsrowe Ct., on the east side where Johnson and his associates grew up. Three years ago, Johnson purchased his first retail store from Chris Davis and Aaron Conroy, Sole Classics, a sneaker and streetware boutique at 765 N. High, which offers out-of-town streetware as well as shoes. His new venture, King’s Rowe is strictly a flagship store for the local label, but the shop will probably adopt one or two other brands to promote Columbus streetware. “The goal of it all,” said Johnson, “is to encourage people to get more to streetware, to understand what it is, and to do their brand and their name on their own as well.” King’s Rowe is open Monday through Saturday, 11 to 7, and Sunday 12 to 5. Visit or call 614-725-1877 to view merchandise, read blogs, and more.

Business for Short North insurance agent Robby Stephens has been so successful that he made the decision to move his office into a larger facility in February to accommodate additional staff and meet the growing needs of his agency and clients. The new location at 815 N. High St. in the Greystone Court complex is just a few doors south of the Dakota building where he started his business with American Family Insurance four years ago. “It’s a little bitter sweet,” said Stephens. “It’s like moving out of a house or an apartment that you started out in, because I opened my agency here.” Ever-vivacious, helpful and generous, Stephens is not only committed to clients and staff but selflessly serves the Columbus community through volunteer work, fundraising and organizing for worthy causes. He has many friends, and a good number of them live in the Short North. “I’m so happy I get to stay in the neighborhood,” said Stephens, “because I live here and I love the Short North.” The new location will provide short-term parking during regular business hours in the Greystone lot. Office numbers remain the same. Robby W. Stephens Agency of American Family Insurance provides all lines of insurance. Visit Facebook or his website

Three months after Funky and Functional vacated 685 N. High St., Zoom Room Columbus opened the space in grand style on November 10 with a fun-filled day full of activities for dogs and their owners, welcoming the pet community to the new dog training facility. The Zoom Room offers training classes in dog agility, obedience, puppy classes, and special enrichment. If one has no familiarity with the intricacies of dog training, the range of instruction is surprising, everything from basic manners to transforming your pooch into a Hollywood Dog. The space (4,450-square-feet) provides plenty of room for activities. Eco-friendly dog supplies – treats, toys, food, bedding, collars, leashes, and other training gear – are for sale. The space is divided, left and right, between a retail floor and a dog park stocked with gym apparatus. Customers can observe the exercise and training. An upper-level area in the back reserved for obedience classes is spacious and filled with natural light. When I stepped up a short flight of steps, I could see (and smell) a trio of dogs calmly going through a training routine. Zoom Room is a franchise, which means someone somewhere has worked very hard to figure out what services are in demand and how to structure and price them to the standards of the industry so everyone is happy. Becky and Brian Berger are the proud owners of Zoom Room Columbus as well as two golden retrievers, Chelsea and Brodie. Visit for a complete description of training opportunities and dog products. The number for the store is 614-859-5876.

We were saddened to hear of the passing of architect Frank Elmer and insurance agent Chuck Jacoby in December, as well as the September death of Bill McCracken who frequented the Short North Tavern and was a friend of publisher Tom Thomson. Hopefully we will have time and space to share more about these folks in the next issue.

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