Heather Harmon never expected to turn her lifelong hobby into a full-time job. Nonetheless, Hazel Reese Vintage Market, 70 N. Plains Rd., had its grand opening on Nov. 13, 2020, and has found success during its first few months.
Heather Harmon, owner of Hazel Reese Vintage Market and an associate professor of instruction working in health sciences at Ohio University, explained that while teaching has always been her dream, her side hobby of redoing furniture and home decor is always what she was really into. Once she brought up the idea of opening a local vintage market, countless members of the community reached out to her, either encouraging her to open the space or requesting to become vendors.
“I wanted other people to be able to get access to stuff, because in Athens there’s not really a place to buy a whole lot of stuff like furniture and home decor things,” Heather Harmon said, describing her business’ new benefit to the community over the phone. “So it just made sense to open it, even though it’s the worst possible time in history to open a business.”
The vintage market hosts 32 cosigners and vendors in a large space, with around 20 actual vendors coming to the space every weekend to sell pieces they’ve made or collections they’ve curated. Heather Harmon plans to keep introducing vendors for as long as she can, selling vintage items, antiques, home decor and handmade items such as masks, t-shirts, soaps, jams and jellies. Soon, Hazel Reese Vintage Market will also have a section offering baked goods.
“There’s something for everybody to see,” Heather Harmon said, emphasizing that any group, be it college students, high schoolers, parents or just people passing through, will find something to appreciate at Hazel Reese. “It’s not boring, it’s not like going to Hobby Lobby and buying the same stuff everybody else has. You’re buying stuff that nobody else has, and that’s what makes it cool.”
The name Hazel Reese was inspired by the first and middle names of her two children. One of those children, Allie Harmon, is the manager of Heather Harmon’s store. Allie Harmon, who is a senior at Athens High School who plans to major in business next year, took the position to gain experience in her future field of study.
Allie Harmon mostly works behind the scenes, running the store’s social media and cash register and doing paperwork for the vendors. She explained that actually getting the business set up certainly has been a learning curve, especially as a high school student, but keeping everything organized is what helped her efficiently open the store.
“I’m just really excited to see how the end of the year turns out, and I really hope that me and my mom can make this a successful business in the end, so that we have something in Athens where people can get anything,” Allie Harmon said. “I’d hope to manage it for a pretty long time… I don’t really want it to be just a side job.”
Over last summer, vendor Kim Hobbs originally sold vintage jewelry, clothing and books and hand-sewn dog bandanas, aprons, crock and bowl covers, pillows, quilts and tic-tac-toe games in her booth at the Meigs County Farmers Market. She saw online that Hazel Reese was looking for vendors and quickly connected with Heather Harmon to set up her booth.
Hobbs noted that her favorite part of Hazel Reese Vintage Market is that the inventory constantly changes. At their personal discretion, vendors can take out things that aren’t selling well and add fresher pieces for their customers.
“(Vendors are always) recycling, updating, putting new inventory in,” Hobbs said. “So every time you go into the shop, it’s like going into a new place again.”
Hobbs’ booth was originally called Kim’s Sewing Garden, but in Hazel Reese she’s mostly known as Booth 33. Every booth is assigned a number, which vendors label their items with in order to be given credit at the register for each sale. It’s a smooth system that allows customers to shop through the store and then check out at one location at the end of their visit.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” Hobbs said, describing the atmosphere of Hazel Reese. “I mean, it’s a little bit of everything. I consider it one of those, ‘Don’t know what to get somebody? Go to Hazel’s for that perfect gift,’ kind of place.”
Hazel Reese Vintage Market is open Friday 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. They plan to expand their business hours to seven days a week in the coming months. Those interested in applying to become a vendor can email Heather Harmon at firstname.lastname@example.org.