COVENTRY TWP. From the moment JoAnne Tyrrell caught wind that Kieffer Marine would be closing its doors in the wake of the state of Ohio’s decision to build a new dam in the East Reservoir along Portage Lakes Drive - and essentially right through the middle of the business - preservation was on her mind.
"Part of the business and a good part of that building was their nautical gift shop," said Tyrrell, manager at nearby Portage Lakes Marine and a long-time fan of the boutique at Kieffer. "They did a good business out of there and it worked because it made people happy."
Kieffer closed its doors for good in late August, with most of its ownership retiring to Florida. While some might have simply lamented the loss of the boutique as a casualty of the closing, Tyrrell decided to take matters into her own hands.
With a little family help, that is.
"I talked to my brother-in-law (Portage Lakes Marine owner Scott Sieg) and he asked me for some numbers," Tyrell said. "I love this business. I told Scott, if (he would) just give me the space, I would do it all myself. I would run everything."
Sieg agreed and while her original estimates of what buying and starting up the business would cost were off slightly, Tyrrell said, an agreement was reached with the Kieffer Marine owners.
"When I went in and found out they were closing, around May, I just said ‘I’ll buy it, I’ll buy it all’," Tyrrell laughed.
Roughly three weeks later, she and a small army of volunteers, including her sister, Tiffany Sieg, had moved the stock into its new home at Portage Lakes Marine’s 3758 Manchester Road location. The store will celebrate its grand opening Saturday.
Big plans for the entire year
In addition to offering items available at the Kieffer Marine location, Tyrell said she plans to expand the new Nautical Boutique to include not only nautical themed clothing, wall signs, lamps, household items and crafts, but Ohio and Portage Lakes-centric fare, along with several one-of-a-kind, locally made items.
And in keeping with historical continuity, the store will also carry "Savvy Anchor" clothing, designed by Brooke Kieffer.
"We’re not trying to copy them, but I have a lot of respect for what they did," Tyrrell said. "But I am trying to create a sense of family and having an experience."
In fact, while atmosphere is not part of the inventory officially, Tyrrell said she hopes it will always be in stock at Nautical Boutique. While Portage Lakes Marine closes over the winter months, Tyrrell said Nautical Boutique will remain open year-around – primarily for Christmas shopping.
"I want people to be able to Christmas shop and everybody who has come in is excited about that," she said.
Not that the magical shopping experience sentiment is meant to be reserved for the Yuletide season alone.
"Have you ever been to Disney? I want to create a feeling like that," Tyrell said, as she pointed to a collection of prints in the corner of the shop. "I just love things like that. I feel like I’m walking into a Gary Cooper movie."