ASHLAND – Exactly one year after opening their boutique at 112 E. Main St., Fig & Oak owners Julie and John Mitchell had a second opening day Tuesday in a new location just down the street.
This time, the Mitchells invited loyal customers and supportive community members into their newly-renovated space, where they already have more floor space and are positioned to grow even more.
Located at 100 W. Main St. in downtown Ashland, the building that now houses Fig & Oak was built in 1901 and is known as the Leonhart Building. Painted blue and featuring a recognizable Queen Anne-style round turret, the building most recently was home to Ashland Books.
While Brooks Whitmore still owns the property, the Mitchells have a long-term lease and are renting to own.
Since March, the Mitchells have poured their energy and passion into a complete transformation of the building’s first floor. With help from family and friends, John knocked down floating walls, removed plaster to expose original tin ceilings and brick walls and took the flooring back to the original hardwood.
They hired a contractor to add first-floor windows, and they plan to add awnings and to touch up the paint on the exterior of the building.
“We’ve always loved historic buildings, and this was always our vision for Fig & Oak,” John said. “When we got a peek at the tin ceilings, we know this was exactly what we wanted.”
The Mitchells obtained an old photo of the building from Fred Oxley and had the image blown up to hang in the store.
“This was kind of our inspiration for trying to keep it looking original,” John said of the photo.
The new store is about 50 percent bigger than the old shop, and it features a back room that the Mitchells hope to use for events and possibly even classes or workshops someday. The store owners also hope to provide a venue for live music in the store.
Fig & Oak has become a go-to store for people looking for unique gifts and decor. People especially like the “give back” products the store sells from brands that support various charities and causes with monetary or in-kind donations.
The store also offers one-of-a-kind furniture and lighting, which John creates himself. At the new location, John hopes to ramp up his custom order business.
He has already taken orders for custom dining room tables and fireplace mantles as well as unique projects like transformations of heirloom furniture pieces into more practical, modern items.
“People show me a picture of a light and say, ‘Can you make this for me?'” John said. “Yes, I can.”
Also in the works is a new website, which will allow the business to sell products online.
The Mitchells are pleased with the amount of support they have received throughout their first year in business, and they urge community members to support not just Fig & Oak but all downtown Ashland businesses.
“Come down and support downtown. We want to see Ashland grow, and that’s what we’re trying to help do,” John said. “We want people to know they don’t have to go to Columbus or Cleveland to get unique or custom things. Those things are available, and that’s not just here, that’s any of the stores downtown.”
For shopkeepers like the Mitchells, it’s fun to be part of downtown’s revitalization.
“Lately I’ve heard a lot of, ‘this is what it used to be like when I grew up. The downtown was thriving, but then it went away,'” Julie said. “It’s exciting to see all the new growth.”