LIMA — When it comes to the world of locally owned businesses, one of the key terms would be variety. The small businesses that begin in our region are only limited by the dreams of their creators.
For example, Amy Musil and her husband, Justin, began LuLu’s Diner in Lima almost four years ago, desiring to bring fresh, home-cooked food to the community.
“We pride ourselves on fresh food,” she said. “We don’t buy a lot of prepackaged stuff. A lot of things are homemade.”
Since LuLu’s second location on Bellefontaine Avenue opened a year and a half ago, the Musils have brought their signature style to the east side of Lima. However, continued construction on Interstate 75 had an effect on business.
“We’ve had some slowdown because of the construction around Interstate 75, but the construction workers have rallied around us since we are locally owned,” she said.
While this restaurant started as a diner on Spencerville Road, it has since expanded into other areas.
“With our two locations, we’ve been able to do a lot of catering, and that has definitely picked up,” Amy Musil said. “That’s actually been the biggest growth area for the business in the past year. We’ve catered for rehearsal dinners, baby showers and more.”
For this upcoming year, the Musils hope to continue expanding LuLu’s catering presence.
“We’ll be reaching out to the community with the catering, as well as trying to work on deals with local hotels to get the catering out there more,” Amy Musil said.
WAPAKONETA — While LuLu’s is a relatively new small business undertaking, others have been around long enough to gain a track record in their respective communities. One example is Casa Chic, a furniture and decor business that has been in Wapakoneta for almost 10 years.
“We’ll have our 10th anniversary in August,” co-owner Laura Clementz said. “We were down the street for five and a half years, and then we had the opportunity to move into this three-story building, so here we are. I was able to purchase it, and we call it home.”
During that time, Clementz and Landa Tomlinson, her sister and business partner, have seen continual growth in downtown Wapakoneta.
“We’ve been very fortunate,” Clementz said. “Our business has increased by 30 percent every year. That was the same this past year.”
Despite economic hardships eating into families’ disposable income, the downturn did not affect Casa Chic.
“We’re very fortunate in our store in that we’re not particularly affected by the economy because we sell new and used furniture and decor,” Clementz said. “So we can sell at very good prices.”
Clementz also credits the community for creating an atmosphere conducive to small business.
“We have wonderful organizations in our community and they all work well together, starting with the Chamber of Commerce, Economic Development, Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership and the Wapakoneta Antique and Specialty Shops,” she said. “It’s a wonderful environment to work in here in Wapakoneta.”
Clementz and Tomlinson are planning some new events this year to increase Casa Chic’s community presence.
“We are members of Wapakoneta Antique and Specialty Shops, and we are beginning first weekend events,” Clementz said. “In April, we’ll have a vintage-style wedding seminar on the 5th. Starting May 3, we’ll be having our first Wapakoneta Wine Walk in conjunction with the Downtown Wapakoneta Partnership.”
OTTAWA — Another business that has even deeper roots in its community is Beckman Jewelers, an Ottawa staple for 125 years. Located in the heart of downtown Ottawa, the family-owned business enjoyed a good year in 2013.
“We had a very good year this past calendar year,” co-owner Bernard Beckman said. “One of the shadows on that year was that a couple of days before Christmas, we had the flood here in Ottawa. But the rest of our year was very good. I’d say it was a better year than the year before.”
While small businesses are often threatened by larger stores or online competition, Beckman Jewelers has been able to thrive.
“Everyone talks about the dot.coms like Amazon cutting into business, but I think our presence for the long run and our family presence helps create trust, bringing people out our way,” Beckman said.
Despite 125 years of community loyalty, the Beckmans continue to try to improve.
“Two years ago, we put in a new computerized point-of-sale system, which has worked really well,” Bernard said. “This year, the biggest thing we’ll be doing is putting in new LED lights in our show area. For one thing, it saves energy, and it also provides better lighting for showing gifts off to the customers.”