BATH TWP.: Bath may be known as a nature friendly residential community, but there are an extraordinary number of unique small businesses tucked into the hamlets of the township.
From bakers and restaurateurs, to exercise experts and computer consultants, to designers of all kinds, to physicians, there are small business owners scattered throughout the township. All of who bring their skills, talents and expertise to customers and patrons from around the area.
Many of those small businesses are members of the Bath Business Association, which is best described as Bath’s “Chamber of Commerce.” Organized years ago as an offshoot of the Heritage Corridors of Bath, the BBA is a network of local professionals committed to their businesses and to the rural and historic nature of the community in which their businesses, livelihoods and, for many, their homes are located.
Members of the BBA network among each other and work together, often in collaboration with the township, for the benefit of the community.
"The Bath Business Association continually develops showcase events for businesses here in Bath,” said Ken Baldwin, co-president and a founding member of the BBA.
"Small business is the cornerstone of the American economy,” said Baldwin. “The majority of Americans workers are employed by a small business, so by shopping locally you are not only supporting a local business but the jobs of friends, family, and neighbors. Shopping at local small businesses also keeps many of your dollars in your community."
That is especially true during the busiest shopping season of the year, and most notably on Small Business Saturday, according to a number of the local, small business owners.
More than a day
Since 1986, a charming century home in the historic hamlet of Ghent has been the location for The Bake Shop in Ghent. Owned and operated by direct descendants of one of Bath Township's original settlers, The Bake Shop in Ghent is a full-service bakery. From every-occasion cakes, to pies, tortes, pastries, cookies, brownies, breads, rolls, and donuts, these baked goods taste even better than they look.
Owner Nancy Fay is not only an established baker, but she has been active in and an officer with the BBA from its inception, understanding the role of business and community networking not just during the holiday season.
“Small Business Saturday is a great idea, and we always appreciate the one-day, big emphasis on local shopping,” said Fay. “But we also want to encourage local residents to always patronize the small local businesses. Shopping local is not only great for gas mileage and for the local economy, but it’s the best way I know to support your friends and neighbors who have those small local businesses.”
Mark Stiles, co-owner of Bath Tractor, with his son, Mark, appreciates the patronage of area residents.
“Local people ... that is our business,” said Stiles, who has owned Bath Tractor since 1997. “And the people in Bath are loyal to their local businesses, and we always appreciate it.”
Stiles related how one of his major suppliers, Stihl, emphasizes the importance of dealing with local merchants in the company’s national advertising efforts. According to Stiles, the ads provide facts and figures about how money spent with local merchants stays in the local community compared to the money spent at mass merchandisers.
“People ask where all the local hardware stores have gone,” he said. “Well, they didn’t shop there and now they’re all gone.”
Bath Tractor is a “go-to” place in the community for far more than just tractors. They sell and service lawnmowers, snow blowers, chain saws, leaf blowers, most types of powered lawn and garden needs.
“The community is everything, everything to us,” said Stiles, “and not only at the holidays but all the time.”
Gearing up for the holidays
Located on the site of what was claimed to be the second largest general store in Ohio in the mid-1880s, Garth Andrew’s Co. is owned and operated by descendants of that general store’s legendary proprietor, Sigel Whitcraft.
Instead of groceries, farm equipment and hardware, the store now stocks lamps, artwork, rugs and interior design products for its residential and commercial clients. And every year, the staff at Garth Andrew’s gears up for the holidays and its annual Holiday Open House.
In years past, the interior design store would schedule its Holiday Open House closer to Christmas, said co-owner Jeff Andrew, great-grandson of Whitcraft. But it never failed that a blizzard would blow in, no matter what the date, so the company opted for the weekend after Thanksgiving a few years ago to beat the weather. And stopping by to shop at Garth Andrew’s has become a holiday tradition for many area residents, said Andrew.
“Families come home for Thanksgiving, and we found that by Saturday, they are ready to get out,” he said. “They come here for our holiday sale, and it’s like the old general store where everybody congregated. We have wine, cheese, food and the first 48 people to bring in a donation for Toys for Tots will receive a free ornament.”
This year, Garth Andrew’s Holiday Open House is from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. on Sunday, offering unique design and gift items – especially one-of-kind Christmas ornaments – during a time that is “like old-home week for us,” said Andrew.
New, friendly faces
One of Bath’s newest small businesses is La Daisy Boutique, which owner Michelle Rapoza opened Sept. 1 at 794 Wye Road, between The Bake Shop in Ghent and CleverPup 101. This high-end consignment shop for women has expanded in just the last month to include new fashion accessories like scarfs, handbags, jewelry, belts and even sweaters to complement the complete line of fashions on display.
Rapoza grew up in a small town and said she chose Bath for her business venture because she believes in small towns and the friendships and relationships you can build in smaller communities.
“This will be the first holiday for the shop and I am excited,” Rapoza said, adding that it will be her first time on the “other side of the shopping counter” during the start of the holiday shopping season.
Especially on Small Business Saturday, she hopes people will “stop by, introduce themselves, have fun shopping, find a new store, and then become customers and friends.”
Rapoza is a big believer in shopping local.
“We have such cute gifts shops here in Bath, and I hope that people will explore them and support them.”
And by exploring and supporting small local businesses in Bath, and in the many smaller communities in the region, you’ll discover the unique and distinctive gifts that make your holiday gift shopping not only fun, but also memorable.
Do you plan on taking part in the Small Business Saturday shopping? What Bath businesses do you want to visit? Leave a comment below.