Shop Talk: The Family-Owned Mercantile that Pioneered the Canal Winchester Shopping District
Cornersmiths, a local mercantile and emporium, is owned by mother-daughter duo Carm Smith and Kendra Ryan. The shop is located in the heart of the Canal Winchester Shopping District at 1 S. High St. Women’s clothing, jewelry, local candles, fine china, antique wooden furniture, and household accessories are among some of the items that can be found in the ever-changing displays inside Cornersmiths.
Ryan started the business in 2011. From a young age she was interested in the arts – especially color and design – and as an adult she wanted to blend that with her love of all things old. She started collecting and gathering items in her home until she had enough to fill the storefront. When she and her mother, Carm Smith, opened Cornersmiths it was the first retailer in the Canal Winchester historic district. Their shop is housed in the building that was the original mercantile when Canal Winchester was settled. Cornersmiths started a movement of entrepreneurs opening new businesses along High Street that eventually led to the designated Canal Winchester Shopping District.
The shop is arranged into “vignettes” of various themes such as a tea room, federal/Americana, Mary Poppins, India, a library, and Mid-Century. Three times each year the vignettes are reimagined, creating an entirely new shop. Items are moved around and exchanged for new items to allow customers to see things with fresh perspective. During their eight years of operation, they have never repeated a vignette theme with the same items. Once a rearrangement has happened, the family immediately starts dreaming and planning the ideas for the next arrangement.
One area of the shop that doesn’t change is the emporium. It is always stocked with local honey, LuLu & Max tea, candles, syrups, and imported Italian food items. The family loves to travel, and they find interesting items on their excursions and bring them back to their shop. One such item is Otterbein’s Cookies, a family favorite they discovered during their vacations to the Delaware coast.
Since opening the business, Ryan has taken a more behind-the-scenes roll, working out of their barn warehouse to find, create, and finish the items for the shop. Another family member, Bruna Brundige, has come on to lend her marketing experience. The family trio works closely together to curate unique items and rare finds such as hand embroidered tea towels, rain capers, Meghan Browne Jewelry, Stark County bells, canvas bags, and natural wood furniture. They also carry and sell items for the Canal Winchester Historical Society, with 100 percent of those proceeds going back to the society.
In addition to the storefront, Cornersmiths occasionally hosts barn sales, where they sell project pieces and overstock items. They also offer wedding rental items, such as china, and have staged several weddings at their barn. They are participants in the Canal Winchester Art Stroll and Third Thursdays, where shops stay open later and offer specials and deals.