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Leaving the corporate world for whimsical things in German Village

Leaving the corporate world for whimsical things in German Village

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Barbie Coleman opens Urban Sundry with a little bit of this and a little bit of that

By David Lewis

The dictionary defines sundries as miscellaneous small items or works that don’t readily fit into standard categories—you could say the same for Barbie Coleman, owner of Urban Sundry in German Village, who left a successful PR career on the East Coast for something a touch different and more meaningful.

“Once I was done [with corporate life] I set up my LLC because I knew I wanted to start a business,” said Coleman of her shop that carries eclectic, one-of-a-kind pieces from jewelry to home decor. “I knew [when I opened a store] I wanted to be part of a community. Create an experience. I wanted anyone and everyone to be welcome into my store and feel my personality which is whimsical, irreverent, with a big sense of humor.”

The Urban Sundry storefront promises this whimsical touch of magic in its German Village, white-washed space on the quaint and cozy brick-lined, Mohawk Street in German Village. The perfect setting for Coleman, burnt out from a corporate career and ready for a change when she moved to Columbus in 2010.

Up until Coleman opened her Sundry doors three weeks ago, she was gaining valuable experience in retail after buying a tiny 6 by 12 foot tiny house to create a rolling retail store. She traveled to horse shows selling her sundries and building her business. Along with an online presence and a seasonal retail store in Wilmington, she was busy with her two favorite pastimes: shopping and horses.  

Friends asked her why didn’t she open a store in Columbus, but the right opportunity never came around—until one day, it did.

“I live in [German Village] and was driving by this store and saw a for-rent sign,” Colemans said. “I immediately made a phone call because these spaces rarely come up and the idea of riding my bike to work I loved.”

She signed a lease in February of this year and was ready to open in spring, after renovations were done—and then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and everything halted as everyone sheltered in place. Coleman understood that opening a store during a pandemic was not going to be easy, but she was committed to making it happen. She got the keys in June and finished the renovations with a much tighter budget and the help of her landlord, painting the walls herself, grabbing a large chandelier from her home’s basement, and taking shelving from her closed Wilmington store.

“I had moments that I wanted to scrap it but I only know one way and that’s to go forward,” a determined Coleman said. 

Coleman beams with happiness and hope at the possibilities of what her store can become. She has clothes, candles, children’s books, jewelry, cheese boards, parchment with sayings on it, stuffed animals, games, journals, and the list goes on—all pieces that are as unique as she is.

“Small business owners that succeed are all in; if one decision doesn’t work you try something else,” Coleman said. “You must adapt to change—especially during a pandemic.”

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