Motorists have driven by the store, seeing merchandise rest in the same spot, frozen in time, for over 30 years, wondering what had happened and if they might ever get a chance to return to the store.
That rare opportunity was made available for local residents when the store was reopened for liquidation of its contents, a few days ago. Col. Nahorn soon learned of the store’s “reopening,” and he quickly made his way there to get a glimpse of a store he had only driven by – a store that had been closed longer than he has been alive.
The Firelands Country Store opened in 1958 and became well-known to offer a variety of “country” items – everything from furniture, glassware, and ceramics to cheese, wines, and spices. A familiar story we’ve heard mentions how kids had to be accompanied by an adult or were not allowed to enter. A recent article noted that Ohio’s largest selection of plastic flowers was offered at this store.
Family disagreements led to the longterm closure of the store in 1981. Jack Smith, a friend of the Museum, earlier this year gained complete ownership of the property and decided on holding this giant sale. Jack, a son of Joseph and Maxine Smith who had operated the store, recently bought out his brother Alan in order to reopen earlier this week.
Upon entering the expansive single-story building on August 18, 2015, one could easily get lost, making his way along the handmade wooden shelves, covered with merchandise marked with handwritten price tags. Baskets hang from the ceiling, as do numerous differing light fixtures. A slightly musty smell fills the air, and light pours into the building through giant glass paneled garage doors that line several sides of the rambling building. Finally, in the rear of the building, we noticed the remaining, large selection of plastic flowers – most still priced under $1. If you remove an item from a shelf, a lighter space is often left behind where that item once sat.
After taking in the experience of entering, we found a few items to purchase. Some of these items are for the Museum, but mostly, we were interested in the act of simply entering the building and “poking around” a store that had been closed since 1981. Of particular note, we were able to acquire a plaster sign, made in 1968 with the name of the store across the front. Originally an item he did not want to sell, Mr. Smith decided to part with it so that it may now be a part of a new display at the Museum.
(Pub. August 20, 2015)