Vintage VanBlair is an antiques, vintage, and oddities shop in North Lima that’s got a little bit of something for everyone.

Owner Cassondra Ohlin originally wanted to open an antique shop, but the idea quickly evolved from there. “I’m going to run an antique shop,” she said. “But the more I researched and the more I got things together, I wanted to be more than that. So I tagged on oddities in there too because I wanted to bring in some of the weird nature things I do and then it’s like, ‘you know I like the home decor aspect,’ so it wraps together all these different eclectic things: home decor, vintage antiques, oddities, handmades, it’s a lot of things.”

With such a varied collection of products, it should come as no surprise that a lot goes into curating items for the shop. “You know I look all the time, it’s garage sales, estate sales, random people call me and have stuff, my family members bring me things, just going out into nature and finding things. It’s always having an eye open for what you might come across,” Ohlin says.

Vintage VanBlair is not always solely focused on making the sale. When customers come in, Ohlin wants to offer more than just the products on the shelves, “I want to inspire them I want them to come in and see all the different things you can do, and that you don’t have to necessarily stick to this era or this style. I want to teach them how they can mix things into their own decor in ways that they enjoy, to bring in touches of everything, anything. I don’t want people to be so limited in their design.”

“Maybe people today don’t care about the meaning behind the things they have, but I think they should.”

To Cassondra, there are a number of reasons to support local business over big box retailers, “Vote with your dollar. The things you choose to support are the things you spend money on. You can get the same thing anywhere, half the time, why don’t you get it from your community? Why don’t you get it from an individual who can use that money? And then next, it’s like why would you want something that everybody has? I get that there’s trend but you can get a one of a kind piece that someone spent time and love and effort into creating. That means so much more. And maybe people today don’t care about the meaning behind the things they have. But I think they should. And then buying vintage you’re not creating more waste, which is wonderful. Why would you buy a brand new and make more waste, when you can just pick up something that is re-loved and re-loved?”

Ultimately, her favorite thing about owning Vintage VanBlair comes as more of a side effect of running the business, as opposed to simply being a business owner. “I think initially I got into it for the freedom, but now I think I’m in it because I have found that I can impact people in ways I didn’t expect. And I like that aspect of it,” she said. “Maybe it was someone finding just the perfect item, and I know that they’ve looked for it forever. Or maybe it’s someone who said, ‘you know I never thought I was going to have anything bright yellow in my house but now I am.’ As much as I’m an introvert, and sometimes it’s hard to be with people to the extent that I am, it’s the connections you make even over the little things. And I find that the older I get the more I value that. And a good day is really a day you get to change a life for the better.”

Vintage VanBlair is located at 11839 South Avenue in North Lima, Ohio.

Last week’s episode of Shop Local Mahoning Valley: Cultivate Cafe