BARNESVILLE — Local business woman Susan Lapham is grateful for the continued support of those in the community and strives to pay it forward by helping local nonprofits, school programs and events that support residents.
Lapham, the owner of Avenues of Barnesville and the Blue Moon Tavern, splits her time between her hometown of Barnesville and Houston, Texas, mainly staying at her home outside her hometown where she runs her two businesses.
Lapham grew up on a dairy farm in the village of Barnesville. After studying a few semesters in communications and public relations at The Ohio State University, she decided she would head south for warmer weather and landed in Houston where she studied graphic design at the Art Institute of Houston. While there she opted to take art classes from Glassell School of Art which led her to start her own company called Avenues focusing on advertising, graphics design and events.
“Throughout my many years in Texas, I made visits to my hometown several times a year to visit family and friends. As technology advanced, I soon realized I could do my work from any place as long as I had a cell phone and laptop. Thus, I began spending more time in the slower-paced Ohio countryside,” she said.
Eventually, in the early 2000s, Lapham and her husband purchased land and built a second home near Barnesville where they would spend summers fleeing the Houston heat.
“During those years, my connection with the Barnesville community became much closer. Maybe it takes living in a large city to realize the warmth and advantages of living in a small town where everyone knows your name, where people care and neighbors help each other,” she said.
In 2013, when the former Hallmark store went up for sale, Lapham said she wanted to invest in her hometown and open up a new shop — Avenues of Barnesville.
“Avenues of Barnesville was born and the transition from the Hallmark House to the shop it is today was gradual with mistakes made as we determined what our market wanted. We wanted to carry items that werenát available in our area; a place where you could shop without driving to the mall, without leaving Barnesville,” she said.
“Ultimately, we developed a feel for what moved and, as a result we now carry, in addition to cards and gifts, home decor, Farm House Fresh – a skincare line, Hobo purses and wallets, jewelry, Ohio State items, bereavement, Mud Pie dishes and baby clothes, seasonal decor, custom florals and wreaths, Candleberry, chandeliers, wall art, and one-of-a-kind artist items.”
Lapham credits the efforts of the Barnesville Chamber of Commerce’s “Shop, Eat, Support Local ” campaign to aiding in keeping local businesses thriving.
“With the government shut-down and slow sales because of the pandemic in 2020, 2021 has seen much improvement. From a place where you are not sure you can keep the business going to seeing our local community and customers making a point to shop with us has been rewarding. I can’t tell you how much we appreciate every single customer who supports us,” she said.
A couple years after purchasing her shop Avenues, another building came up for sale across the road. Although apprehensive at first, Lapham ended up purchasing the former Clubhouse Tavern in 2015. The shop was in need of a lot of “TLC” and upgrades, so she quickly got to work renovating the space. She said they took the walls back to the original brick and installed a new bar in the outdoor patio area known to employees and customers as the biergarten.
“I saw a need for a neighborhood bar that was open to the public and that was the onset of my second business in Barnesville. Our town had several membership bars, but at that time only one, with limited hours and out of the downtown area, was open to the public,” she said. “Over the past seven years, many improvements have been made to the bar, equipment was upgraded, a new bar was built, and draft beer was added.”
In addition to food and drinks, the tavern provides live music several times a month. She said they also have darts and a Queen of Hearts drawing every Tuesday.
Lapham said she has many goals in the coming year for both businesses. For Avenues, she plans to add a few after-hours mixers and social events to the calendar. She said she plans to purchase more U.S. made products to add to the growing inventory and will continue to cater to the needs of the customers
When it comes to the tavern, Lapham said they plan to continue making improvements to both the inside and outside of the building.
“With the upcoming season, we hope to add some type of cover to the Biergarten to provide more shade and temperature control with fans and heaters as needed. This summer, beginning in May, food trucks will be available in the parking lot next to the Biergarten on the first Thursday of each month. We will provide music and a comfortable place to enjoy the food that is offered. We very much appreciate the village and the chamber’s efforts in establishing a food truck agenda that will help all the businesses in the village,” she said.
Lapham said she is grateful for the community’s support in shopping locally and reciprocates that back to the community.
“Just as our community has supported ours and other local businesses, we, in turn, try to support and contribute to the many local charities, organizations, schools and fundraisers, unlike the national retailers and online companies,” she said.