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Audrey's Attic makes houses more like homes

Published: August 1, 2010 2:23 PM
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The sweet, creamy smell of cinnamon buns hangs above all the rustic home decor in Audrey's Attic and it seems even more like a home with three in-house cats that blend into the scenery.

One particular fluffy orange cat named Blaze will walk across the checkout computer, marking a generous line of "f's" across the screen. Blaze is joined by his sister Daisy and their adopted friend Bella.

In the decade owner Audrey Merkle has been in business, only a couple customers have complained about the animals in the store. The cats can be found settled in undisturbed places, oftentimes choosing to become part of the ornate storefront window dressing that Merkle said draws people to the shop.

"As you can see, we're not formal," Merkle said.

Audrey's Attic employees work directly with customers to make their ideas come to life. The store is primarily focused on country themes and primitive styles, but it's easy for customers to create their own look with what they have in mind for their homes. Throughout the store, Merkle and her employees have incorporated vintage items like old barn ladders or ice pincers into the decor to inspire people to show off things they've been given or had passed down in their families in their homes.

"We give people ideas with stuff they may have hidden somewhere," she said. "We tell people, "You have to get it out and use it.'"

Merkle knows firsthand that it doesn't take a mint to make a house look more like a home.

"I like to shop. I've always been that way. I've never had a lot of money, so I've always been frugal with what I'm buying," Merkle said. "I have things you don't really need, but it's things that make you feel good. I love to buy this type of stuff."

Merkle understands candles, garlands and seasonal decorations aren't necessities, but small homey touches make people feel good about their homes. At her store, she said, it's easy and affordable to change the look of a home with the season.

Having a store filled with house decorations has given Merkle a way to turn one of her favorite pastimes into a job.

"Could you believe it? I was a housewife," Merkle said.

As a housewife, though, Merkle's shopping and crafting introduced her to the decorating business. Because she'd loved candles, she knows the value of getting one that burns evenly and gives off long-lasting scents. Merkle boasts the fragrance of every candle in the store will fill the floor of a home.

Other items in the store like battery-operated candles and tapers have a practical purpose. Instead of being strictly decorative, they're safe and reusable too. Local artisans make the birdhouses and poplar furniture sold in the store, which cuts down on delivery costs and allows Merkle to sell quality, handmade work at a more a more affordable price.

"I'm really fortunate they deliver it for me," Merkle said.

Merkle is constantly thinking of her customers. Even though only about one-eighth of her customers come from Orrville, she knows many repeat customers by name. Because the shop is located on State Route 57, Merkle meets customers from all over the country on their way to visit Berlin and other small towns in the Amish Heartland.

Customers at Audrey's Attic also receive benefits like a lot of large chain stores offer " birthday discounts, mailing lists, frequent customer deals, prizes, as well as monthly and weekly specials.

Merkle's business savvy and loaded store calendar has doubled her business and has convinced her to begin working on an online store that should be ready within the year.

Audrey's Attic is located at 147 North Main Street in Orrville. Call 330-683-3384 or visit http://www.shopaudreysattic.com for more information. Customers can look for deals on iShop.Wayne.com

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