Hiding on the side of the highway near Athens resides White's Mill: a family business built on the edge of the river. In the mill, treasures from children's books, pottery, gardening tips and tricks and the occasional cat roaming around can be found, leaving visitors excited to return.
According to the White's Mill website, although the building was constructed in 1809, it was purchased by the White Family in 1912. The mill, located at 2 Whites Mill Drive, then burned down in 1913, and Edgar White, the owner of White's Mill, purchased a different mill in nearby Dyesville. The wood from the mill was then transported by oxen all the way to Athens, where it was then reconstructed to be the White's Mill, still standing today.
The mill was purchased by Mike Toomey in the '90s and started to focus as a home, pet and garden store. The mill was then sold to Rodney Dowler and Tyler Schoss in 2016 who continued the same model that Toomey had started.
Carl Scott, assistant manager and stepson of one of the owners, said he loves helping out at the store on the weekends and also learning more about the history of the mill.
He said one thing that a lot of people didn't know was that the mill acted as a stop on the underground railroad where freedom seekers, or formerly enslaved people who took action to obtain freedom, would stay on their journey to safety.
Scott said the store acts as a place for everyone to find something they might like.
"As a business, I think that … they really value supporting the local economy," he said. "(They carry) products that just might cost a little bit more sometimes but are higher quality products than you can get in most places. We just take a lot of pride in what we carry and how we present that to the community."
Scott said he has been working on and off at the shop since high school and continued to do so through undergrad, graduate school and does so still today on the weekends when he has more time.
"There's very little that I don't like about working here," he said. "It's just a really fun place to be."
He said he especially enjoys being able to spend time with customers.
"The customers are probably one of the best parts about this job," Scott said. "We have so many people that come in and we know them by name and they know us by name and it takes business beyond just transactional, it becomes relational. We have working relationships with all our customers and I think that's a really cool thing. It's something that you don't really see in other places."
Albert Kennedy, a team member at the mill, said he has been working at the mill for almost a year and really enjoys being able to learn every day.
Kennedy said he has various tasks, including holding the register, tidying up, sweeping and helping people out with their gardening.
"(I've learned) how to garden a variety of plants," he said. "I got to learn about a lot of local artists."
Susan Erlewine, an Athens "townie," said she has been living in Athens for 26 years and frequents the store. Visitors like Erlewine can stop by between 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday or from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
She said she loves going to the White's Mill because of the beautiful plants that can be found in the spring and the different treasures she can use as gifts during Christmas time or birthdays and celebrations.
"There's always something unusual and interesting here," Earlwine said.
She said she enjoyed finding beautiful pottery and children's games, deviating from the usual Candy Land for more creative or unseen options.
She said she really enjoyed the localness of the shop and that everything was thoughtfully chosen.
"We've gotten each of our kids, ourselves and some friends the beautiful woodstock wind chimes they have here," she said. "I just keep coming back to see what new things they have."