Columbus, Ohio USA
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The Hippie Hut: Guitars & Things
Circleville shop moves to Columbus
By Margaret Marten
May/June 2015 Issue

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Storeowner Scott Sanzoni models a tie-dye T-shirt created by Shannon Frost. Photo by Gus Brunsman III

The Hippie Hut opened across the street from Kroger Store on the corner of King and High in March with a grand opening on April 18, 2015. The shop, which sells guitars and music-oriented merchandise, originated in Circleville where owner Scott Sanzoni, 45, moved in 2001 after leaving Detroit where he worked as a gemologist and jeweler. After the move, he continued his trade as a diamond broker for the Buckeye Pawn Shop, but eventually (in 2004) decided to open a retail store in Circleville and surround himself with what he really cared about – music and collectibles. “I had a vision of opening a shop that had a little bit of everything, everything with pop culture in it,” he said.

As a musician, a guitarist, Sanzoni faced challenges when he first settled into the rural community of Circleville – the hometown of his girlfriend at that time. For one thing, there was nowhere to buy guitar strings, so his new shop would eventually stock those. Later he picked up a line of guitars, went into accessories, and by his second year running the store, he was giving lessons. “So that’s how I grew,” he explained. Some were skeptical. “Locals came in and said ‘This ain’t going to work here. There ain’t no way. This ain’t working.’” But Hippie Hut was successful. “I put a billboard up on Rt. 23,” said Sanzoni. “I was pulling people from Hilliard, Reynoldsburg, just all over the place, coming up from Kentucky and West Virginia, and I had a hit.” Whether on their way to the Hocking Hills or back to Columbus, or traveling to the OSU Medical Center or on to Cleveland to catch a concert, the billboard attracted customers.

After a decade in business, however, seeing the enroachment of big box stores impacting small communities in Central Ohio, Sanzoni knew he had reached his limit in Circleville. “I wasn’t going to sink with the ship,” he explained. “I didn’t have lack of business down there. It’s just that I kind of felt like I hit my ceiling, and I’m not one for ceilings.”

The recent move to Columbus was a step he had considered but did not plan. During a visit to Columbus right after New Year’s, he drove by the King and High corner, spotted the space (formerly National Check Cashers) next to Roots Records and decided to look into it. He found the landlord and the space so welcoming, the situation so fortuitous, he made the move.

Sanzoni says the store name and much of what it’s all about was influenced by his early life in Detroit. He was raised by hippie parents and became known as the “hippie kid” of their blue collar neighborhood. “I was the one into music when the other kids were more likely playing baseball and football in the street or in the backyard of someone’s house,” he said. Sanzoni got his first guitar as a teen, beginning his lifelong journey with the instrument. One of the earliest bands he recalls performing with, The Trashmen, has come and gone, but a quarter of a century later playing the guitar is still his favorite pasttime. “The store is called Hippie Hut Guitars and Things, so I definitely have guitars,” he said. The shop also sells banjos, mandolins, and ukuleles. But whether it should be called a music store is open to debate. “I’m not really a music store I’d say, but the store revolves all around music.” Most everything relates to the culture of music – figurines, hippie-style jewelry, totes, clothing, patches, T-shirts, albums, posters, incense, tapestries – but it’s not strictly a music store.

The shop stocks many Ohio-based items. Sanzoni prioritizes that in his product selection. His favorite, “hands down,” are the tie-dyes made by Shannon Frost. “I’ve been complimented up and down, not only how different her tie-dye designs are, but how vibrant her colors are, how good her ink is,” he said. “They don’t fade.”

Stop by, check it out – and meet Sanzoni. “You’ll always see my face,” he said. “You’ll always be able to come and talk with the owner just like they used to in the day when there was Bob’s Hardware. And there is Bob.” Employees from the Circleville store – Josh Sollars and Jesse Merideth – are also on board selling everything from guitar picks and reeds to dreamcatchers and drumsets.

The Hippie Hut: Guitars & Things, 1359 N. High St., is open Mon. - Sat. 10 a.m to
7 p.m. Visit www.hippiehutonline.com or call 614-670-5775 for more information.

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