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Published: Tuesday, 6/18/2013

Downtown Sylvania’s new execs have big plans

Group raises $8,000 for revitalization

BLADE STAFF
Linehan Linehan
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Hand-painted wine glasses glinted in the sun as Sylvania residents flocked to a recent Market on Main, an event featuring baked goods, homegrown produce, and many other items.

Arranged by the Downtown Sylvania Association, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the revitalization of the city’s downtown, the weekly farmers market is the group’s latest accomplishment under its new executive board, headed since March by President Jennifer Cummins Linehan. The new vice president is Angela Christensen.

“[Mrs. Linehan] has lots of enthusiasm. She’s young, she has great ideas, and she’s a hard worker, as is Angela,” said Jacquie Olender, Downtown Sylvania Association secretary. “They’re very vocal about shopping [at] small businesses. I think the Downtown Sylvania Association is very fortunate to have them both on board.”

Mrs. Linehan and Mrs. Christensen, business owners in downtown Sylvania, have been involved with the association since its creation in February, 2011.

Born and raised in the city, Mrs. Linehan has owned a flower shop, Beautiful Blooms By Jen, since October, 2010. To help grow her business, Mrs. Linehan joined informal business associations as well as the Downtown Sylvania Association, and she became vice president soon after that organization formed.

She took over when former president and local business owner Jodi Barber stepped down because of health reasons.

“I’ve been kind of doing everything by myself since Jodi got sick, so I’m very excited [for Mrs. Christensen],” Mrs. Linehan said. “It’ll be nice to have a teammate to help with everything.”

An Ottawa Lake, Mich., native, Mrs. Christensen has operated Angela’s Angels & Antiques in downtown Sylvania for nine years. She bought a vacated dentist’s office after her 19-year-old son, Nick, was killed in a car accident, and she transformed the space into a shop selling angel figurines, statues, and gifts with inspirational messages.

Her store is a meeting place for support groups such as Families of Children United in Spirit (FOCUS), which offers comfort to parents who have lost their children, and A Place Called Hope, for grieving spouses, former drug addicts, and others in need of hope.

“After this happened with my son, I had a revelation — I don’t know why — to open an angel shop,” Mrs. Christensen said. “Now I know it’s to help others. My main focus is to be there for people who have had a loss.”

A Whiteford Township clerk, Mrs. Christensen was inspired by downtown revitalization initiatives in her home state and thought similar incentives could be applied in Ohio.

“[Sylvania] was one of the places I admired,” she said. “There’s always little flowers and banners and kids riding bikes. I would purposely drive down Main Street just to look at everything.”

The association has hosted three “Downtown Delights” events, during which shops and restaurants stay open from 5 to 8 p.m. Last July the association hosted the Sylvania Rockin’ BBQ.

On June 4, the executive board organized the farmers market, said Pat Nowak, executive director of the Sylvania Area Chamber of Commerce. About 15 vendors will sell produce and artisan crafts 4 to 7 p.m. every Tuesday until Oct. 1.

The association has raised $8,000 for downtown revitalization, such as to “make sidewalks and storefronts look prettier” with flowers, street art, and murals, Mrs. Christensen said.

Mrs. Linehan aims to attract more businesses to the downtown area to connect the main block of the downtown retail district with the more secluded second block.

“When people come [downtown], they don’t even realize there are other stores down there,” Mrs. Linehan said. “My hope is to bring businesses in so that there aren’t any empty spaces in downtown Sylvania.”

The Downtown Sylvania Association will provide food and refreshments for Taking It To The Streets, a downtown festival held in conjunction with the Marathon Classic Golf Tournament on July 18.



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