Knowing Diane Maute means you have to have a sense of humor. It was in her jeans, she says. Actually getting "dressed up" into jeans and commuting further than from the master bedroom to the home office was kind of a big leap. Owning a managed-care consulting company for 10 years and doing business while in PJs and slippers made it hard to pull on the jeans and commute to a "real world" job.

Knowing Diane Maute means you have to have a sense of humor. It was in her jeans, she says. Actually getting "dressed up" into jeans and commuting further than from the master bedroom to the home office was kind of a big leap. Owning a managed-care consulting company for 10 years and doing business while in PJs and slippers made it hard to pull on the jeans and commute to a "real world" job.

That is one of the reasons Maute says that the Ursus is located in Upper Arlington, literally a stone's throw from her home. "That was the furthest commute I could muster." That, and the fact that she loves the safe and beautiful community where she, and her husband Jeff, raised their 2 children and developed long and lasting ties and friendships. "I could not think of another area of town that I wanted to support by opening a business."

Retail definitely passed from grandfather to father to daughter, as did the love of all the arts. Maute's grandfather was an artist and a small business owner and subcontractor - all vocations she has embraced at some time. Her father owned a small music business in the Cleveland suburb of Parma for more than 40 years. He continues to teach clarinet and saxophone to school-aged musicians and those that return during college summer breaks and even adults.

Although educated in psychology, nursing and social work, being in New York City on 9/11 with her children and watching the towers fall on the big-screen monitors in Times Square was enough for her to return to the comfort of her artful roots.

"I have always been a rolling stone with no chance of moss growing on me," Maute says. Patience, routine, predictability are all boring four-letter words to Maute. "Doing the same thing day after day after day would just about do me in." Maute says her husband is happy that she now has the gallery to keep her occupied so that when he comes home from work, the living room is not a new color with all rearranged or new furniture.

Ursus opened in May of 2004 and is poised to celebrate its fifth anniversary May 14 with a ribbon-cutting ceremony (with the Chamber) and cake for all on Thursday, Friday and Saturday. Maute thinks it is important to give back to her loyal customers who continue to support the store. She has seen some drop in sales. However, she tends to hear more and more that the store is a refreshing oasis in this world of poorly made, foreign and unsafe products available anywhere.

"People want to honor and cherish their friends and family with thoughtful and unique gifts from their heart," she says. "People will spend a very long time combing the store for just that right item."

Recently, she asked a male customer how he was. His answer: "Much better since coming in here." Maute tries to self-promote when she is in a new setting with new potential customers but finds the proof is in the experience. Ursus is an experience like no other store in the central Ohio area. Local and national artists' work is displayed in a pleasing-to-the-senses manner. At times, it is overwhelming to take it all in. But it is most rewarding when you find just that special item.

Being a part of the Upper Arlington community - through involvement in the Chamber and UA ARTS (the fundraising arm of the Cultural Arts Commission of Upper Arlington) - means a lot to Maute. As these times are proving, we are all interconnected and need to be mindful of supporting the things that are important to improving our quality of life.

Maute says she never opened the gallery with the thought of a huge financial gain in mind. She was passionate about doing something that she loved and sharing that with the community, which did not have an art shop destination within its borders.

"I hoped not to go broke, which is the case with many such ventures" Maute says. "Instead, I hoped to be able to prosper enough to keep this delightful escape from the sterile big-box environments a viable option for the discerning shopper. We need to support shops like this in order to continue to have alternatives."
The Chamber has made the retailers of Upper Arlington a focus of its current mission.

"Networking with other business leaders is always extremely helpful for those of us with limited time to explore all the services available to us, but getting customers in our doors is what is even more critical," Maute says. "Membership in the Upper Arlington Chamber will go a long way to making this happen."