maison1

Chris M. Rodriguez in her store on Lear Road, a neighborhood that at least one city official hopes he can grow into a unique pedestrian-friendly shopping district.

AVON LAKE

A grand opening for Maison, Designs by C. Marie shop on Lear Road was held late last year, but the craft and home decor business is already going through transformation.

The business, owned by Chris Marie Rodriguez, opened as two-in-one. Antica Modern offers specialty paints mostly for furniture refinishing at its main location in Lakewood. Owner Annette Sullivan was to operate a small second location inside Maison, French for “home.” However, Sullivan cut her ties with the Avon Lake shop in January.

Rodriguez, 51, is confident she can carry on, filling the void with the works of several local crafters and niche businesses. Those entrepreneurs include Busy Bee baked goods for humans and Cay9Cookies for their four-legged friends. Mama Trauma Naturals offers teas and balms. Another vendor is the Antique Candle Co.

Rodriguez still offers her refurbished furniture pieces and home items.

“I basically bring new life to old pieces of furniture,” she said. “They are antique pieces that need updating to current styles.”

She regularly refinishes older pieces customers bring to her.

“These are pieces people have and don’t necessarily want to get rid of, but those pieces need a little help,” Rodriguez said.

She also offers home décor, accessories and gift items, including homemade charcuterie (cheese) boards, wine glasses and wine bottles. The store featured plenty of Christmas items during the holidays.

Rodriguez previously operated a store in Avon.

“It was just a small space and I needed more, I needed space to work on my furniture,” Rodriguez said, adding at the time she was working out of her home garage.

“Cold” was the first word Rodriguez used to describe working in that garage. She added as her Avon store was on the second floor, moving pieces into the space often was a challenge. She has a small warehouse in the back of her Avon Lake home, where she stores her furniture as well as a dedicated workspace.

“It’s just a lot more practical,” Rodriguez said.

There are numerous pieces she’s worked on that took on a special meaning for her.

“There are so many things I worked on that I just love,” she said. “I get very attached in a weird way, but I am proud of everything I do.”

An antique buffet table from the early 1900s is the only refurbished piece she has kept for herself.

“It was still in really good shape construction-wise. It just needed a little TLC,” Rodriguez added.

She is not one to pick up pieces from the side of the road, partly because they have been ruined by the elements.

“I prefer to buy my pieces,” she said. Customers also routinely bring pieces they have found in grandma’s attic and want to be refurbished.

“I just love doing that,” Rodriguez said. “It just brings so much joy to people, you can’t imagine their reactions when they come to pick it up. It’s pretty special.”

She regularly gets comments from folks visiting her store who say they wish they’d never gotten rid of one piece of furniture or another.

Growing Lear Road with small restaurants, wine shops, anything that will get people walking up and down the street, is the desire of Avon Lake Economic Development Director Ted Esborn. He expressed a hope that shops that will cause people to just stop and look around will appear. Rodriguez is fully on board with that notion.

“I love the idea,” she said. “I’ve had some great discussions with him about all that. I think we kind of both share the same vision.”

Esborn stated he is confident Maison can continue in the absence of Antica Modern.

Lear is the perfect spot to create a predestinarian friendly shopping area, Rodriguez believes.

“It’s a unique little district,” she added. She took a chance on the area and is the only retailer in the vicinity. Husband Angel found the spot. Children Nick, 19, and Elaina, 16, are a big help around the store, their mother said.

“I needed the space, but I really didn’t know where to look, everything is so expensive,” Rodriguez said, adding that her husband just happened to drive by what is now her store and noticed a “For Rent” sign in the window.

“I think he just wanted his garage back,” Rodriguez joked.

Contact this reporter at tcorrigan@westlifenews.com or 440-871-5797.

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