Merchants Walk a draw despite rain

A little bit of rain was not enough to keep a sizable crowd from enjoying the first Merchants and Artist Walk of the 2013 season.

“I don’t miss any of them. I look forward to them all year,” said Marietta resident Vicki Ayers, 59, who was out getting shopping ideas Friday for the rest of the year.

The heavy rain that had hit downtown earlier that afternoon had mostly stopped by the time the walk got underway at 6 p.m., which is why Devola resident Katherine Pekruhn and her friend decided to attend.

“We were waiting for the weather and at 4:30 we decided we would go to Tampico and come out,” said Pekruhn, who was shopping in H. Rietz & Co. Antiques at its new location at 282 Front St., the former location of Sugden Book Store.

Previously located in the 100 block of Front Street, the antique business owned by Shana and Dan Woodford is no stranger to the Merchants and Artist walks. But having just moved six weeks ago, Friday’s event was their first walk in the new location, and Shana said it was going great despite the drizzle.

“We love it here. There’s tons of space and it’s a great area,” she said.

It was also nice to have a May Merchants and Artist Walk, she said. The event typically starts in June each year.

It addition to starting earlier, the walk also expanded this year to include the 200 block of Putnam Street.

To help ring in the expansion, Thrive Catering opened a booth in front of the site of its future cafe on the corner of Second and Putnam streets.

“I wish the weather was a little better,” said Thrive chef Jamie Heydinger.

But even with a bit of rain, the full service business was able to interact with some loyal and some potential future costumers.

Thrive enthusiast Carol Garoza, of Marietta, walked up to the booth to thank them for a meal she enjoyed Wednesday.

“Thrive is the best kept secret in Marietta in a long time,” she said.

The opening of a cafe is tentative, said general manager Jason Legraen, but currently the business offers full service catering and hot take home meals through the Betsey Mills Club.

The Peoples Bank Theatre participated in its first walk, opening its doors for people to see progress on the restoration work and to spread the word about its upcoming Chocolate Jazz fundraiser, which will take place June 9.

“We’re kind of excited to be a part of this for the first time because the whole point is to kind of create an energy on this block and it’s great to see it happening,” said theater director of development Hunt Brawley.

Also on the 200 block of Putnam Street, Barking Dog Books and Art held a book signing and The Mid-Ohio Valley Players had a performance of Love’s Labour’s Lost.

Farther up the street, Wild Rivers tea room and art studio was serving up lemonade, treats and some live music for its first walk.

“I’ve always enjoyed these, but to be a part of it on the other side is awesome,” said Jane Tumas-Serna, owner of the Putnam Street business.

She and daughter Laura Serna-Maytorena opened the business in December and the walk was a chance to see some new faces, said Serna-Maytorena.

“It’s great to have so many new people coming in and the great thing is we have people coming from both directions. It really doubles the downtown area,” she said.

According to ReStore Marietta, which helps coordinate the event, a record 41 merchants participated in the walk, representing downtown Marietta and the Harmar District.

Future Merchants and Artist Walk events are planned for June 14, July 12, Aug. 9 and Nov. 8.