October 26, 2014

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Shops popping up in downtown Lorain for holidays

Dan Metelsky of Amherst sets up his “Alternative Christmas Display” at 936 Broadway in Lorain on Thursday. (CT photo by Steve Manheim.)

ORAIN — City sidewalk …

Vacant store fronts in historic downtown Lorain are being transformed this holiday season to offer a wide variety of one-of-a-kind gifts.

Busy sidewalks …

This first-year program is an initiative of the Community Development Department to bring shoppers downtown for the holidays and hopefully year-round.

Dressed in holiday style …

Each of the more than 20 vendors has been given a rent-free space to decorate and use to sell their wares.

In the air there’s a feeling of Christmas.

The new Holiday Pop-Up Shops will be operating in time for Light Up Lorain, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday. The event includes a parade, fireworks, animated light show, horse-drawn carriage rides, Euclid Rocket Car rides, international tree and a model train display at Black River Landing.

“We wanted to see a change,” said Rey Carrion, director of the Community Development Department. “We want to bring people down not only for the holidays, but year-round, and not just Lorain people, or Lorain County people, but visitors from all over.”

That’s why selection of the vendors was so important.

There are jewelry makers, photographers, clothing designers, furniture makers, a florist, a costume shop and many, many more.

Linda Hardwick-Shull, owner of Litehouse Floral and Lake Erie Costume, was excited to set up shop in what she describes as a great location.

Hardwick-Shull closed her flower shop on the east side of Lorain after 20 years in business. She continued operating out of her home, but when she heard about the pop-up shops, she wanted to give it a try. Now, she may stay indefinitely.

“It just seems like a really good program,” she said. “I wanted to reintegrate into the community again, and I fell in love with the storefront. I’m right at the bridge at 410 Broadway. It’s very visible. There is a lot of traffic. The location works out good.”

Hardwich-Shull’s flower shop includes fresh and silk flowers, nautical decor and holiday decorations. Her costume shop offers Santa and Mrs. Claus attire, elves suits and many other non-holiday-themed outfits.

If the location is still working at the end of December, Hardwick-Shull wants to sign a lease. She’s already spoken to the landlord about expanding into the neighboring building a few years out to have separate stores for each of her businesses.

And she isn’t the only one testing the waters of longevity.

Dan Metelsky is setting up The Alternative Christmas Display at 936 Broadway, and may just decide to change the theme throughout the year to stay open full-time.

To describe this unique attraction as “alternative” is not enough.

“It’s like Halloween and the ‘Twilight Zone’ meet Christmas,” the long-time oddities collector said.

He has taken advantage of pop culture and all of the television shows, such as “Alien Autopsy” and “Finding Big Foot” and incorporated them into his display. And why not? He just had all of this stuff lying around anyway.

The retired Lorain native, now Amherst resident, Metelsky came up with the idea while shopping in August and seeing store employees putting up holiday decorations.

“Every year Christmas starts coming earlier and earlier,” he said. “It’s absolutely absurd.”

But he insists the display is not scary, but fun.

“I want people to have a smile on their face when they leave and feel like they got a great value and got to see some really neat stuff,” Metelsky said.

The Alternative Christmas Display opens Friday and will be open 5 to 10 p.m. Fridays, 4 to 10 p.m. Saturdays and 2 to 4 p.m. Sundays throughout the holidays.

Cost for the display is $4 for adults and $2 for children under the age of 12. The maximum cost for a family is $10.

Soon it will be Christmas Day.

Pop-up shop vendors

The shops/vendors chosen for the 2012 Holiday Pop-Up Shops are: Wilma’s Gift Shop, All that Glitters, Tracy Mason, Lake Erie Legacies, Bead-a-ful, Brush of Fresh Air, Tracy Lynn Fashion Jewelry, Sweet Nostalgia, Dog Father, Valerie Dillard, Julie Garcia, Val DeAngelis, Shabby Chic Furniture, Sisters (painted furniture, holiday decor, photography), J.T. Rollins Gallery, The Alternative Christmas Display, Jevon Terance Clothing, Lake Erie Costume, Follow the Fish, Arts & Collectible Gift Shoppe and K-Cream Korner. More are being added.

Contact Christina Jolliffe at 329-7155 or ctnews@chroniclet.com.