Johnstown resident Pat Kramer has opened a new business, Gifts by Us, at 86 W. Coshocton St., adjacent to the Hot Spot caf, where she wants to showcase and promote local artists.

Johnstown resident Pat Kramer has opened a new business, Gifts by Us, at 86 W. Coshocton St., adjacent to the Hot Spot caf, where she wants to showcase and promote local artists.

Kramer takes artwork and products on a consignment basis, but she also sells some products retail.

"It's hard to pay the bills only on consignment," Kramer said.

She opened up Oct. 19 with a core group of artists and has nearly 30 represented in her shop now.

Among her first participants was Pam Zeirott, who has been developing her own small business during the past several years, Soaps-n-Such, offering goat's milk soap and similar items.

"Pat kept bugging several of us all summer, saying, 'You girls ought to open a shop, you ought to open a shop'," Zeirott said. "We'd roll our eyes: like we have time to open a shop.

"But when the opportunity opened up," she said, "she jumped all over it with both feet. So far I've been very pleased. I've got my soaps in there, lotion."

Zeirott said initial business is good.

"Definitely," she said. "She's calling me to say she's low on soap. That's a good problem to have. We're excited about the Christmas season."

Kramer is running the shop by herself five days a week. She's open Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m .and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. If she needs a break, the artists come in and help her out.

"If I need to get off for something, the artists will come in," Kramer said. "They have things here and it doesn't do them any good if I am closed, so they come in and help."

Although she knows it's a hard time to start a business, she says the store fills a niche.

"I am getting traffic," Kramer said. "Hot Spot has been fabulous, when people come in to get coffee and they say, 'Have you been back there shopping yet?' We play off each other. People come in my back door, they go and get coffee because they can smell it, or people come in my store.

"The connecting door was one of the things that made me decide to do this," she said.

Kramer counts 27 artists and suppliers, all but nine of whom are from Johnstown.

"I don't have to go out and look for artists anymore," Kramer said. "They are calling me."

Kramer, who serves on the village zoning commission, said the experience of opening a business gave her new insight.

"It made me realize that Johnstown requires quite a bit from new businesses starting up," Kramer said.

She'll know she's a success as long as she has customers coming in, and people willing to sell their goods through her store.

And her artists appreciate her efforts.

"It's kind of nice to support local people, too," Zeirott said. "That feels good."