Athens is home to several distinctive shops and boutiques, and one of its most interesting hidden gems is Cool Digs.
Cool Digs Rock Shop and Specialty Garden Supplies, 6 Euclid Dr., is known for its rocks and minerals as well as crystals, garden supplies, jewelry and more.
The owner of Cool Digs, SaraQuoia Bryant, started going to shows and vending in the late 1990s, moving to the location on Euclid in 2012.
“We have professors, boy scouts, other Athens people, plant lovers; you name it,” Bryant said. “It’s a pretty specialty shop. There aren’t many rock shops in Ohio, so we have people who drive from as far away as Cleveland just to come to the rock shop on weekends.”
The rocks and minerals are predominantly imported from Madagascar through a friend of Bryant’s, but some of the products come from other places around the world.
Bryant’s interest in rocks and minerals started at an early age, as she would always keep her eyes open for special rocks and minerals. Her interest in garden products stemmed from her visits to her grandparents’ farm in Mississippi every summer growing up.
One of her favorite parts of Cool Digs is being able to share her interest in rocks, minerals and gardening products with people in Athens.
“For me, it was a passion I grew up with,” Bryant said. “And being able to share that with other people is really cool. People come in here and also love plants and also love rocks, and it’s just really fun.”
The store is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Though Bryant’s regular store hours bring in a lot of business, her Jammin’ Gem shows prove to be the most popular.
Jammin’ Gem provides an opportunity for Bryant to get some of the back stock of rocks out to the public as well as feature other local artists that work with rocks or minerals in their pieces. The shows also include live music and some representatives from the store’s staff to talk about the products.
Bryant typically holds the shows during the fall but occasionally will host the shows in the spring. Jammin’ Gem always takes place at least once per year, but sometimes happens twice.
In addition to the Jammin’ Gem show, Bryant features her Cool Digs products at the Pawpaw Festival.
Bryant knows Cool Digs is one of only a few rock and garden stores in the area and believes people should stop by to check out what she deems “nature’s treasures.”
Bryant said: “It’s a unique place for people who are interested in any of the natural sciences. There’s a lot of things here that you can’t really go just anywhere else in Ohio and see.”
Will Quanrud, a junior studying geology, became interested in rocks and minerals in a similar way as Bryant, finding them extremely fascinating.
“There are thousands of them each containing unique and fascinating qualities,” Quanrud said. “Other people should be interested in rocks and minerals because everyday materials that we use as consumers or manufacturers use, such as salt and iron, come from processing rocks and minerals.”
Quanrud said he loves that Cool Digs is such a big presence in Athens because of the expansive collection the store has to offer.
“The local rock shop contains a very large selection of cool rocks and minerals giving someone the chance to admire and purchase some of the most unique and beautiful types of rocks and minerals that the world has to offer,” Quanrud said.
Madison Clay, a sophomore studying English, thinks Cool Digs is a great way for people to get a feel for exotic aspects of other parts of the world from the comfort of Athens.
“Athens is such a small town not really near anything, so it’s cool having a way to experience the world from Athens through the store,” Clay said.
More than anything, Bryant attributes her success with Cool Digs to her customers and team of employees. She believes without them there would be no business.
“We have lots of good employees, and that’s really what makes a business work: having a good team and being enthusiastic about what you do,” Bryant said.