April 18, 2014

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Avon’s Quartermaster General shop supplies TV, movie productions

Sheri Selander, co-owner of The Quartermaster General  in the Olde Avon Village Shoppes, shows off some of the shop's wares on Thursday.  KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

Sheri Selander, co-owner of The Quartermaster General in the Olde Avon Village Shoppes, shows off some of the shop’s wares on Thursday. KRISTIN BAUER | CHRONICLE

AVON — The small, white frame house that dates to the mid-1800s sits in the middle of a commercial complex.

The Quartermaster General shop may not be as well-known to many in the area as owners Sherie and Jim Selander would like, but it has a very big reputation in the world of historical re-enactors and TV- and movie-production companies.

Sherie Selander talked with obvious knowledge and passion for her business as she stood in the small , distinctively appointed shop surrounded by authentic reproductions of Colonial American clothing, chairs, dining tables, dressers, candle holders and more.

Quartermaster General in Avon has many unique colonial reproductions, furnishings and primitives within the store.

Quartermaster General in Avon has many unique colonial reproductions, furnishings and primitives within the store.

Among the hundreds of handmade items the shop offers via its extensive online business site are linen shirts, leggings, stays (women’s corsets), sword belts and powder horns that have adorned countless historic re-enactors as well as casts of movies including Mel Gibson’s “The Patriot,” “Last of the Mohicans” and Fox TV’s new series “Sleepy Hollow.”

But anyone hoping to get an up-close-and-personal look at the clothes produced for movies or TV is out of luck.

The clothing is produced in the shop by craftspeople around Ohio and elsewhere who contract with the couple.

“It’s all custom-made, so as soon as something is finished, it’s shipped off,” Selander said. “We’re good at what we do.”

While there are quite a number of Civil War-era re-enactors in the area, those who don the garb of the American Revolution and other Colonial periods are few and far between in Ohio, with most living in Virginia, New England and areas closer to the era’s historic sites and battlefields.

After operating their very lucrative online business venture for seven years, the couple decided to open the small shop in early 2012 in an 1851 house in the Shops of Old Avon Village retail complex off Detroit Road.

A piece of local history itself, the house served as a home for many families, including a local physician in the 1930s.

Selander creates and sells the furnishings and clothes seen on television's "Sleepy Hollow."

Selander creates and sells the furnishings and clothes seen on television’s “Sleepy Hollow.”

With a keen eye for ensuring period detail in clothing and reproduced furnishings, Sherie Selander concentrates on the period from 1610 to 1810.

The business has provided items for the “Sleepy Hollow” series ranging from stockings over the knees, silk cravats and “tons of shirts with lace, linen and ruffles.”

Selander’s keen eye is quick to spot historical inaccuracies in terms of costuming, including a few she’s seen on the show.

“The woman playing Katrina (Ichabod Crane’s wife) has bare arms in some scenes and that wouldn’t have been done,” Selander said. “You had cleavage, but you didn’t see elbows or ankles back then.”

The Quartermaster General (named for military personnel who provide troops with uniforms and supplies) contracts with artisans around Ohio and elsewhere to create whatever is needed.

Items sought by re-enactors and TV or film productions can range from metal belt buckles and buttons to upholstered furniture, corner cupboards and chairs made by a craftsman in West Virginia.

The “Sleepy Hollow” series also has purchased reproductions of lanterns, pewter candlesticks and an antique copper tea kettle.

The shop is contributing clothing and other items for a film being made about the Battle of Yorktown for a National Park Service film.

Selander has cut back a bit on production of clothing in favor of Colonial and primitive-style furnishings. “It’s definitely back in style.”

Selander feels part of the renewed popularity of the era is a yearning by people “for the simple life” people once enjoyed.

“I sometimes think we’d be better off without electricity,” Selander said with in a wistful tone. “I’d have a dial phone if I could.”

Contact Steve Fogarty at 329-7146 or sfogarty@chroniclet.com.

  • Denise Caruloff

    one of my favorite shops in avon…and quite the story as well. Good luck with all!

  • Sandy Auner

    One of the best kept secrets in the area! Real quality historical items! Kudos to Sherrie & Jim!