CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio — Small businesses shuttered was a common sight early in the pandemic, and Coventry Village saw its share of storefronts go dark.
"Coventry had kind of fallen on hard times for a little bit," said Ash O’Connor.
O'Connor is now helping lead the charge to create new momentum in the historic corridor.
"It's kind of going through a resurgence and we're so excited to be a part of that. There were definitely moments where we questioned why are we doing this?" said O’Connor.
O'Connor's Made Cleveland store just opened its doors in the old City Buddha location.
"When you walk in you will still smell City Buddha, there is some lingering incense, so you'll feel right at home," said O’Connor.
The 5,700 sq. foot space is now filled with goods from 120 local makers.
“What we've done is created a department store for small businesses. We're definitely seeing a need for this," said O’Connor.
The inventory on the shelves is just as diverse and eclectic as Coventry Village itself.
"Art, apparel, home goods, furniture, we have glass blowing classes," said O’Connor.
O'Connor took the online community she created at the start of the pandemic, an Etsy specific for Northeast Ohio and turned it into something tangible.
“And it really drove home how important it is to shop local, so I don't think it's a trend, I think it's something on the uptick and we're just trying to make it as easy as possible," said O’Connor.
On a street still filled with some for rent signs, neighboring shops like Passport to Peru welcome Made Cleveland.
"Seeing this come in makes us really happy because we get to see a lot of Cleveland artists coming in and see what they got," said Frank Oswald, Passport to Peru.
Along with those artists, additional foot traffic is also expected as once online customers get the chance to shop from all their favorites now under one roof.
"It's still a little surreal how much we've grown in two-years," said O’Connor.