Made Cleveland opens on Coventry
Made Cleveland, the new "marketplace of independent creators" in Coventry Village, opened its doors on June 3. It hosts the work of approximately 120 vendors, mostly from Northeast Ohio, whose wares include perishable and non-perishable food items, apparel, beauty products, refillable cleaning products, home goods, furniture, art and jewelry.
Owner Ash O’Connor describes her path to opening Made Cleveland as part determination and part good luck and timing.
After moving to Northeast Ohio from Philadelphia in 2017 to take a job as a hotel food and beverage director, O'Connor decided to stay in Cleveland when it turned out the job was not a good fit. Two years later, with a partner and a newborn, she hadn't yet made her next professional move.
That holiday season she had hoped to shop online for locally made goods, but couldn't find a central directory. That sparked the idea for Made Cleveland’s original iteration: a hyper-local, online vendor space and makers community.
O'Connor planned to launch Madecleveland.com in September 2020; when the pandemic hit in March 2020, she expedited the process, and launched in May of that year.
In December 2020, and again in December 2021, O'Connor tested out brick-and-mortar spaces on Coventry Road, hosting two pop-up holiday markets.
Given the markets' success, and availability of a large retail space (previously occupied by City Buddha), O'Connor approached the city about a long-term lease, with the help of Mallory Kent, the Coventry Village Special Improvement District director.
The store is designed to complement the website, and O'Connor's goal is to offer one-stop-shopping convenience while providing “experiences,” such as DIY classes taught by vendors, coupled with tastings from the pantry. She hopes to offer curbside pickup soon, and possibly home delivery in the future.
Larchmere Fireworks—a glassblowing and blacksmithing retailer and studio that collaborated with O'Connor on one of the pop-up markets—has a permanent space at Made Cleveland, where patrons can watch the artists at work.
O’Connor equates the robust response of both sellers and buyers with a particular lesson of the pandemic: “There were very vivid images of what it means to lose small businesses. That’s been a wake-up call. [Made Cleveland] focuses on convenience; these small shops actually are convenient, and it’s quite inconvenient when they disappear.”
O'Connor is committed to creating a positive work environment, where trusting people is key. "That begins with a fair wage,” said O'Connor. Made Cleveland’s starting pay rate is $15 an hour.
O'Connor plans to expand her food selection and establish an in-store farmer’s market for local growers and vendors, and has applied to accept EBT cards.
She envisions the space evolving further. “I see certain lines continuing to grow, including apparel. We have an art gallery, and every Final Friday [a Coventry Village monthly summer event], there will be a new piece installed. We would love to have free, local, live music, local film screenings, literary readings, and eventually we want to install a micro kitchen to serve local wine and beer, and have the kitchen be available to burgeoning food entrepreneurs to test concepts.”
Of her commitment to the business district, O'Connor said, “When I first moved to Cleveland I lived by the Westside Market, and there were lots of cute restaurants and shops, and lots of foot traffic; but in terms of the type of community that we wanted, Coventry was the one. There are so many different socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds , and we wanted to serve and represent a diverse community.”
Made Cleveland is open seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. To contact Made Cleveland, e-mail email@example.com, or call 216-800-8420.
Jessica Schantz is the e-news manager at the Heights Observer and a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights. She is also the co-owner of Upcycle Design, a furniture vendor with Made Cleveland.