The German Village Business Community (GVBC) is strong and strengthening in 2009, thanks to its enormously dedicated leadership but also to the long history of doing business in German Village.

The German Village Business Community (GVBC) is strong and strengthening in 2009, thanks to its enormously dedicated leadership but also to the long history of doing business in German Village.

The commercial buildings in our neighborhood have stories that are conveyed each time a patron opens the front door. What is now Caterina Ltd. was the Peerless Saw Company; Max & Erma's was wellÉthe very first Max & Erma's and a grocery and bar before that. Katzinger's was a grocery; Schmidt's Fudge Haus was a Kroger; the space that now holds Metroscap and David Cunningham's Edward Jones office was a butcher; Mars Creation was an ice house; G. Michael's was an ice cream shop but a blacksmith before that, and so on and so on.

In general, groceries and saloons seemed to prevail as they were both were crucial necessities. Off the top of my head, I can say that local markets existed at what are now Yosick's, Hausfrau Haven, and Teez, and no doubt there were more. My money says that Juergen's was a grocery at one point in a time too.

Some of today's businesses exist in residential structures, like Max the Salon, Helen Winnemore Crafts and the law offices that line Third Street.

In 1969, Helen Winnemore moved her craft shop to a residence at the corner of Mohawk and Kossuth Streets and added to the momentum that had begun in our historic district. Up until this point, the businesses in the neighborhood focused on essentials, rather than unique crafts and gifts. But with Helen Winnemore Crafts came the buzz of restorations happening in German Village and interest shifted our way big time.

The residence that Ms. Winnemore purchased for her store had previously belonged to John and Ruth Thone. Dr. Thone had his office in the building and helped many an ailing neighborhood child and family there.

He inherited the property in 1908 when his mother Victoria died and left it to him. Several owners later, Helen Winnemore moved in.

I've heard of many of the old businesses in the Village, but wasn't aware that a substation for the Columbus Citizen newspaper was at the corner of Lansing and Lazelle. Or that The Dispatch later had a substation on Mohawk between Lansing and Whittier. My most recent favorite find was learning about the Brook Bottling Company on Lazelle Street. Its location seems bizarre, but 791 South Lazelle looks commercial and fits the bill.

A hotbed of activity (both now and then) has been the intersection of Whittier and Jaeger. While today we have Callander Cleaners, Giant Eagle, and Barcelona to frequent, years past saw Spangler Cleaners, The Maple Dell Ice Cream Shop, the Parkview Pharmacy, Gehrke's Bakery and Deibel's Grill.

Two venues that I'll never stop hearing about are the Old World Bazaar and Carolyn's, both of which were on City Park Avenue. The Old World Bazaar was at 555 City Park in an old streetcar shed and was truly the hit of German Village. There were a variety of shops in the building and each offered unique gifts, specialty items or holiday treats. People shopped there when the neighborhood was an up-and-coming fashionable place, and visitors still ask about it today.

Just up the block at 489 City Park Avenue was Carolyn's, which had previously been the Bavaria Haus. Carolyn's was a French restaurant with award winning chefs and an owner who held three gold medals from the International Culinary Olympics. Open for just six years, the restaurant was a hit from day one and is still talked about by locals and visitors.

So upon this successful foundation -- both historic and more recent -- the organization known as German Village Business Community just keeps getting better and better. Today, each member runs a successful business that adds vibrancy and diversity to our neighborhood. The group has mastered events like Mother May I? and Village Lights and made it look easy in the process. And every day they have us, and our thousands of visitors, coming back for more.

We're so spoiled to have these shops, restaurants, studios and offices within walking distance of our homes. Take advantage of all that German Village has to offer and frequent our local businesses. Members of the German Village Business Community have been hard at work making sure you'll have the perfect shopping experience!

Jody Graichen is director of Historical Preservation Programs for the German Village Society and columnist for ThisWeek Community Newspapers.

Jody

Graichen