PAINESVILLE, Ohio– A new store, unlike other retail shops, opens just in time for holiday shopping. It is unique not only because of the people who work there, but because of what one can find there.
The grand opening of The Shoppe in the City in Downtown Painesville was held Thursday.
The new retail venture is operated through the Lake County Educational Service Center's vocational solutions for adults. "The Lake County Educational Service Center is providing services to adults with special needs to be able to work in an environment, in a retail setting," Brian Bontempo, superintendent of the Lake County Educational Services Center said.
It provides an employment opportunity in retail for adults with disabilities who were students in the vocational program. "Adults who work with us each day get the experiences of doing inventory, stocking the shelves, products things like that,” Julie O’Neil, Director of Special Education said.
The Shoppe in the City has unique items that can be bought separately or in gift baskets.
"I have been helping to put together baskets of assorted items here in the store and I vacuum and I do whatever else is needed here," said employee Chris Rychnowsky. Al Simpson also helped assemble gift baskets but enjoys doing other jobs at the store. “I get to do the cash register stuff too," he added.
More than 20 area vendors have their products on sale at the store. Some local favorites include Humphrey's Popcorn and Fowler's Mill mixes.
Shoppers like Karen Zylak like the one-of-a-kind items sold there. "I actually have the candles I purchased and the scarves are beautiful. They’re handmade. The store is great. It's a great addition to Painesville City," she said.
The Shoppe in the City now employs three people and hopes to hire more to meet shoppers’ needs. The store is located at 5 South State Street in Painesville and is open Monday through Saturday.