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Issue Date: June 2013

Street Party

Bryden Spevak

OHIO CITY IS HOME to a wide mix of creative merchants, but people still mostly associate the neighborhood with the West Side Market and delicious Cleveland-made beer.

"One thing people don't realize is that we have had a lot of new businesses start up in the last couple years," explains Mary LaVenia, an Ohio City Merchants Association steering committee member and public relations assistant for Great Lakes Brewing Co. "We have a lot of artisan people in Ohio City."

Since April, the neighborhood has hosted Artisan First Fridays to entice people to help boost Ohio City's smaller businesses. The idea took hold after contemporary artist Loren Naji began turning monthly art shows at his Loren Naji Studio Gallery on West 25th Street into parties by bringing in other artists, music, food and drink.

This spring's Artisan First Friday events included happy hour yoga at Vision Yoga & Wellness, and special displays of Artisan Bridal's antique wedding gowns and costume jewelry. LaVenia says organizers hope to add outdoor entertainment and programs at Market Square Park to the mix.

"This is our way to help boost these businesses," she says. "We try to support each other."

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