The Ottawa Main Street Association’s mission is to help the economic development of our downtown in many ways. This new little start-up store at 129 S. Main Street will give 13 businesses booths for a variety of stores, vendors or artists, call them whatever you will, a place with cheap rent, no overhead and for customers to gather. They sell their wares and grow their business and clientele and once they are ready to expand into another booth, we encourage them to expand into one of the vacant buildings downtown. That’s the main goal of the concept store.

To start, we have 13 vendors and have a waiting list. We will refer these to other stores where they and their wares may be conducive. We have hosted popup stores in the past, thus the name, Concepts. You will remember that we shared this space with the Silver Leaf Gallery, last year. The owner needed to return to New York, however, the popup store was still a good vision and we, as good mainstreeters, decided we needed to try to help more art and economic development take hold in Ottawa. There are a lot of artists, a lot of lovers of art and a lot of people that would love to be able to create art. Hopefully, this is just the place to find all of these needs.

We have artists, crafters, antiques, guitars all available at Concepts. We have Crafting by Anita who creates her own hats, does teabag art, loves to work in watercolor and is one of our teachers. The Tale of Two Sisters are two friends, Destiny Paige and Rachel Giacin, that create simple pieces of art of all varieties and beautifully knitted scarves and coasters. Then there’s Grandpa Barry who sells guitars and amps. He is getting ready to expand into another booth and we would love to be able to find him a building within the year. We have Papa’s Attic II, yes it’s Mark and Debbie Cation and they have come back to sell their antiques after a brief hiatus. The next booth is Paintings by Peggy. She has a very unique perspective with different types of paintings from class drawings to originals. She’s been painting for years and you can see the skill in her brushstrokes. We have Art Ascension run by Dennis & Elaine Engle. She does acrylic pours and he create sculptures from rocks. She will also be teaching classes in the spring. We have the art of Judy Birchard, part of the Ottawa Art Guild. Please come in and check her out; very original Andy Bayless loves photography.

Many if you know Kelly Pinet who makes lovely handmade pottery in the backroom. Also top-tier art joins us and features metal art that he creates. He has several sci-fi toys to purchase. You will also see him at the Sci-Fi show at the Carnegie in April and May.

We have three artists in our front booth; Sandy Silvey with her jewelry, Mick Swank with his wooden art and gems and Kari Garon with her unique glass trees, glass figurines, wine stoppers and at Christmas, ornaments.

So we will have a variety of artists that will be traveling in and out, hopefully we will see the Opportunity quilt make a stop. And before I forget, Backdoor jams began last Wednesday night from 7 to 10 p.m. Come in the backdoor and join the pickers for a jam session, or just come to listen. Live music is always joyful. It makes hearts sing.

If you are into Performing arts, theater is back. A traveling theater, Stage Door, skit group is forming in our area. The leader, Brian King, will be attending if you have questions.

One more thing, we have three teachers. Tonya Johnson will be teaching children and teens Anita Pierce will be teaching adults and Elaine Engle will be teaching acrylic pours for adults. Prices will vary. Please watch for updates or get on our email list.

Also come to the Main Street Mingle reception today from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments sponsored by Re/Max Excel; Ellis- Lantis Group. Ribbon cutting will be at 5 p.m., with music by John Pierce at 5:15-6:15. Come join us and meet all our vendors/artists.

— Lenni Giacin is drector of Ottawa Main Street