BELLVILLE — People poured into the new Love our Hero’s site last Friday.
It is in the old Pumpkin Hollow building, next to the bike trail near the Clear Fork River in downtown Bellville.
Owner Tami Oyster, and her staff of volunteers, said people had been arriving all day – despite the outside rain.
The business moved from East Durbin Avenue. Oyster established her business one year ago. She said then she wanted to expand her effort – which helps and honors veterans.
She’s done that – moving to the Pumpkin Hollow building. It has much larger areas, a large square footage downstairs, plus 2,000 square feet not yet opened upstairs.
Her event Friday was an open house.
Oyster said fans – from Columbus, Cleveland, Chillicothe and elsewhere – have been inquiring about the business and its move.
Love our Hero’s was set up to help veterans. Oyster said veterans in need can get help with food, rent, or with other problems.
The stock in her store is huge. All if it has been donated. There are no prices on anything. People interested in an item can give what they want.
In the new facility, the first room to the east is filled with items donated by veterans or their families. Those items, which include uniforms and flags and photographs, are not for sale. Oyster said one person made a donation valued at $700 in memory of his father.
Another room is a “man’s room,” Oyster says. It is filled with tools, magazines, even older, fancier tools.
There is a homewares room, with some fine antique pieces plus older flatware and beautiful brass candlesticks. There also are many old linens.
One attractive asset in that room is an old bed, double size.
A room for kids is also there, with great books and toys. Next is a craft room.
A café area, next to an ice cream venue, is also in the building. It will be the “freedom café.” Veterans will be the ones staffing that site, said Oyster. The café will be opened, possibly in April, as will the ice cream shop.
Two people have rented space from her, one operated by a veteran holding spin classes.
The other location has reduced priced homewares.
The activity was obvious at Friday’s open house. Inside the building people were carrying boxes filled with their selections. One gentleman had a box with a tiny old guitar, plus other items.
Volunteers were there, filling shelves.
In one room, a shelf unit had been filled with white collectible figures earlier in the week. Friday, half of those items were gone.
Volunteer Sandy Erlacher was restocking that shelf with collectible plates.
A visitor to the site earlier in the week spotted a bowl, filled with old thimbles. When that visitor returned Friday, all those items were gone.
Staffers told people “if you see something you want, you better get it.”
Oyster said 45 volunteers have helped at the store. They moved items from the old location in 4½ hours, she said.
A board helps decide who will get help, said Oyster. A referral system channels requests for help to board members.
In the long run, Oyster intends to convert an adjoining building — once a residence — into a home for some veteran. The person chosen will have to honor certain stipulations. The residence will be offered rent free, said Oyster.
When money is received at Love Our Hero’s, the disbursement is controlled.
A portion of the money is used for bills. The rental for the buildings is $3,500 a month. Oyster said she is operating under a lease to buy agreement.
The other money is given out after veterans’ needs are determined.
One section of the store, not yet opened, will be for clothing suitable for young women, said Oyster. She will also be accepting donations of that kind of clothing – something kids might want to wear to a prom.
Receipts from that section will be distributed – one half to her store and the other half to the athletic boosters.
Love our Hero’s owner Tami Oyster, before a colorful display in her store at its new home in old Pumpkin Hollow building, next to the bike trail in downtown Bellville.
Volunteer Sandy Erlacher shows off a replenished shelf filled with figurines and collectible plates at Love our Hero’s in Bellville