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You truly take a trip back in time as you enter the front doors of Olivesburg General Store. Located in the small country town of Olivesburg, the town has a very close-knit, down home feel. The drive out was enough to melt away the stresses of the day, as I passed the beautiful Amish countryside on my drive west on State Route 96 just west of Ashland.
Coming to the intersection of State Route 545, my eyes were instantly drawn to the most vibrant blue building I had ever seen, just across an open field. I knew I had reached my destination as I pulled into the drive and spotted a group of elderly gentlemen sitting on picnic benches sharing conversations of the good old days over their morning coffee.
As I entered the shop, I immediately felt a smile come across my face as I looked at old fashioned signs that hung from the ceiling and began to imagine all the history in the old building. I didn’t have to imagine long, as owner Connie Crossen introduced herself and shared the story of the little store with me.
19 years ago Crossen and her husband decided to purchase the shop and turn it into their very own general store. “I made homemade chocolates out of my own home and I wanted to purchase a store to sell my chocolates,” said Crossen. “The business has grown so much and got so busy, I only do chocolates for special orders or during special occasions.”
The Crossen’s added many different items to their store from chocolates and candies, to everyday conveniences such as bread and milk and have been working to expand on their house ware collections. Among their house ware selections, Crossen gets the most compliments and requests on her cookie cutters.
“We carry 400 plus cookie cutters. They are a huge seller for us,” said Crossen. “I can’t even fathom how many we sell.” Many call in from all over requesting certain shapes and styles and Crossen said they make great gifts.
A large ice-cream bar is located in the center of the store where 16 different flavors of hand-dipped ice cream is served all year long. Original marble counter tops and a couple of bar stools are still in place from the original store. Olivesburg General Store is home to the most famous ice cream treat, the Shawshank Sundae. This mouth watering treat starts with a warm brownie covered in peanut butter ice cream, lots of hot fudge and topped with whipped cream, M&M’s and a cherry on top. Crossen said, people rave over the dessert and ask for it when they visit. “It’s like heaven on earth,” she said.
Olivesburg General Store also has a small deli with a selection of meats and cheese and serves pizza and hot subs.
In the back corner of the store is Candy Junction. “When my son was little, we would go to a local candy store and buy candy. I wanted to recreate that time I had with him by recreating that store,” said Crossen. It brings back so many memories for her son as well as others who remember a time when they shopped in similar candy stores. Many other aspects of the old building make guests feel like they have taken a trip back in time and reminisce over their fondest memories.
The building was built in 1840 to serve as a small convenience store to the locals of Richland County. In 1871 the building burnt down but much of the original flooring was salvaged once the new building was built. The building served many purposes throughout the years and left behind pieces of history as it changed hands.
Old lawn mower and farm machinery chains hang from the ceiling and even though they are no longer usable, Crossen couldn’t bear to take them down. A long mirror hangs above the window looking over the small café and use to serve as a barber shop mirror.
Along the far wall is a tall shelf with small boxes that hold all varieties of candies. Crossen said, the store used to sell diamonds for rings. People would look through the different boxes of loose diamonds and pick one to be set right there into a ring. An elderly women came in to tell Crossen that her ring had been purchased at this very store.
Return customers sharing stories of their memories of the old days always brings a smile to Crossen’s face and that smile even comes through as she retells them to others. “We are just a little country store with a lot of country charm,” said Crossen.
“We are a close-knit community and we serve the locals and the travelers,” said Crossen. She even keeps a charge book for her local customers, something not many stores can do these days. As much as they appreciate the local community, Crossen knows the locals can’t keep them in business.
“We get tour buses in a lot,” said Crossen. Just recently they hosted a tour bus from Cincinnati and had so much fun meeting everyone. “They just filled the store.” Olivesburg General Store has also become a routine stop for Poker Runs and a Corvette Club that meets for lunch a couple times a year.
“It’s a nice drive out here,” said Crossen and their bright blue building is rather hard to miss. Five years ago Crossen made the decision to paint the building such a bold color. Many people felt she was crazy for it at first but soon came to realize just how attractive the building was to travelers passing by.
Crossen is always looking for ways to improve her small business. Currently she hopes to incorporate more house ware items. Olivesburg General Store seems to have a little something for everyone from food to souvenirs and gifts. “We try to keep our store unique. We blend the old with the present while still keeping the unique old fashioned feel,” said Crossen.
“So walk around with an ice cream and explore or come have lunch with us sometime,” said Crossen.
Olivesburg General Store is located at 4778 State Route 545 in Ashland. Hours of operation are Monday-Friday frome 7 a.m.-8 p.m.; Saturday from 8 a.m.-8 p.m.; and Sunday from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Call 419-895-1038 or visit www.olivesburggeneralstore.com for more information.