Nelsonville is home to shops, restaurants and art-oriented businesses

Nelsonville, Ohio, home of the Nelsonville Music Festival, has plenty to offer when it comes to local arts, shopping, and food.

Located about 21 km from the city of Athens, Nelsonville was first settled in 1814 by the Daniel Nelson family. Now the central business district is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Like many communities, the pandemic has brought changes to Nelsonville. However, new companies continue to appear.

One of the small stores found in the plaza is Gaia’s Realms, 27 W. Columbus St., owned by Jessica Stinson.

“I do psychic readings and natural healing here,” Stinson said. “It’s a store that provides you with tools to help you on your spiritual path.”

The Metaphysical Store offers crystals, tarot cards, handmade items and more. Stinson started his store hoping to use the funds to start a rehabilitation center.

“If you’re on drugs, you can come over there to rehabilitate, find work, find housing,” Stinson said. “If you’re homeless, you can come here to get rehabilitated, to find employment and function in the community…just to help people get back on their feet.”

Stinson was born and raised in Nelsonville. She’s been gone for a while, but she says the city’s energy has always pulled her back. Stinson noted that Nelsonville stores help each other and often refer customers to other stores. Stinson also teaches meditation, tarot and reiki.

Another store in Nelsonville is New Leaf Marketplace, 31 Public Square, formerly known as Nelsonville Emporium. The store offers local food, art and items. The Survivor Outreach Program works with and supports the New Leaf Marketplace.

Additionally, if boots or hunting gear are of interest, shoppers can explore both floors of the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store, 29 Fayette St. Then, for craftsmen, there’s Paper Circle, 35 W. Columbus St. , with different papers from origami to notebooks to printed paper. They also have memberships for paper artists to use the space.

For people looking for entertainment, Nelsonville has a few options to keep busy.

Stuart’s Opera House, 52 Public Square, offers plays, musical performances and events featuring traveling and local performers. Another place with live shows is Rhapsody, 18 Public Square, a restaurant where there are often artists singing and playing music to set the mood.

Then a short drive away is the Movies 10-Fun Barn, 14333 US-33, for games and the latest movies.

For the artistic crowd, people can head to the Majestic Galleries, 20 Public Square, with different outstanding art exhibits.

Another store for art lovers is The Makers Loft, 72 W. Washington, which owner Luke Hall would describe as a “funky little hippie shop.” The store offers tapestries, incense, handmade items and more. Hall originally planned to have a maker space in his store, but due to COVID-19 those plans had to be put on hold.

Hall was inspired by the old shops in Athens where he felt he belonged.

“When I opened the store and molded the store, I molded it from these (stores) because they made me feel so included as a kid,” Hall said. “They offered the things I wanted, not the things everyone else wanted.”

Hall makes cutlery jewelry and family heirloom jewelry, and recycles leftover silver spoons to make jewelry with her partner. Some objects by other artists are also made from recycled materials like recycled paper and cards, as well as buttons from magazines or newspapers.

There are also plenty of different dining options to choose from.

If barbecuing is in the mood, there’s the Starbrick BBQ on the first floor of the Rocky Outdoor Gear Store. For pizza or subs, people can head to Mama Renie’s Pizza, 23 Public Square, with a painted map of the city on the walls. For Mexican cuisine, Los Mariachis, 99 Watkins St., offers many drinks, appetizers and special dishes.

However, if drinks are the main attraction, The Mine Tavern, 14 Public Square, offers drinks, food and pool games. There are also cafes, including FullBrooks Cafe, 6 Public Square, which also offers food and baked goods.

Residents like Talon Morris, who grew up just outside of Nelsonville and lived there until he was 19, enjoy the community. Morris’ parents had a photography studio on the square.

When Morris returns to visit Nelsonville, she still sees new businesses that have popped up. Morris remembered Last Fridays, a tradition Nelsonville used to have every last Friday of the month, when there was a theme, and stores and galleries opened with extra vendors occasionally present. The stalls would have different things to sell like jewelry, art, and baked goods, as well as lots of handmade items.

“It felt like everyone knew everyone else and somehow everything was connected,” Morris said.


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