‘Reach for the STARS’ opened by county ESC in Salem

SALEM — The Columbiana County Educational Service Center (CCESC) will host a Dec. 3 grand opening for “Reach for the STARS,” a student-run gift shop and gallery, located at 440 East State St. in Salem.

The grand opening is scheduled 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the downtown storefront, and will offer  an array of local and regional products in time for the holiday shopping season.

Kitty Kromer is the transitional coordinator with the Columbiana County Education Service Center for the store and helped write the grant to purchase it along with Shirley Boland of the Department of Developmental Disabilities and Cindi Madej of the county ESC.

Kromer said the remodeling started about a month ago with new electrical has being installed throughout the building and new walls went up in about two weeks. The carpet was cleaned on Friday.

“We expect the furniture next week,” she said, “along with having the front window done.”

There are two large retail showrooms, an art gallery to feature local artists and room for special events. A back room will hold inventory, pricing materials, and serve as an area to train store employees.

“It’s more like a work room,” Kromer said. “We have a lot to do in two weeks with vendors.”

The retail store will help students with disabilities practice and demonstrate work skills. Store inventory will include handmade items produced by students, local artists, and Ohio-based companies. Items to be featured are arts and crafts, scarves, assorted jams, and engraved glasses made by the STEM class at the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center. The shop will accept additional vendors and artwork on consignment.

The gift shop was made possible through an Ohio Department of Education Straight A Grant. The grant award will fund the storefront, as well as vocational assessments for students with disabilities. Additionally, vans have been purchased for transporting students to area job sites. Inquiries from interested vendors and artists are welcome.

The project is a partnership between the CCESC, local school districts, the County Board of Developmental Disabilities, the Columbiana County Career and Technical Center, Kent State University, Salem Area Sustainable Opportunity Development Center, Lisbon and Salem Chambers of Commerce, Salem Historical Society, and Valpar International Corp.

For more information about the store and vendor opportunities, contact Kromer, at 330-424-9591.