November 26 is Small Business Saturday, the day that you are encouraged to support your local businesses and business owners and kick off your holiday shopping! Findlay and Hancock County is home to so many great small businesses and we want you to get to know the men and women behind them. So, instead of just celebrating Small Business Saturday we are celebrating Small Business Month and highlighting the different business owners that you may see behind a shop counter, at an event, or in the grocery store and their stories as part of our Community Spotlight Series. This week we are shining the spotlight on Paul Sears, the owner of Objects of Desire Artful Living.
When Paul Sears retired after forty years in academia he was looking for ways to diversify his portfolio and stumbled upon a real estate opportunity. Paul always had a soft spot for Victorians so the home, which was converted to a store and apartment, on Front Street spoke to him. He decided to purchase it and spent the next year fixing up the home, while doing so he was deciding what to do. He could fully convert it back to a home, renting it as a store, or something else. Eventually he decided he wanted to use it as a store and wanted a tenant just like himself and an idea for his own shop was born. When Paul decided it was a gallery and gift shop he wanted to pursue and put into action all the skills he taught students over his years as a professor and dean of the University of Findlay’s business school, he knew he wanted to focus on the philosophy found in the Experience Economy. He wanted to make the experience of shopping in his store part of why people chose to shop there. Paul believes that by implementing this philosophy it makes shopping more enjoyable for him as well as the customer.
Objects of Desire Artful Living will celebrate its two year anniversary on Small Business Saturday and has transformed into more than just a regular gallery and gift shop. Objects of Desire sells unique items that will blow a gift recipient away or accent a room in your own home perfectly. Among items for the home, accessories like bow-ties and purses, Kate Spade accessories and stationary, and amazing artwork, are some highbrow humor items that Paul was a little skeptical of. But it was his wife that convinced him to carry the items and they have definitely added something extra to the shop. Paul said that they make people laugh and add to the experience, which keeps it in the same vein as his original vision for what he wanted in the store. Plus, they’re fun and affordable and often are part of what brings people back with their friends, just to laugh together.
Looking over the past two years Paul is very proud of what he has accomplished, his sales in year two are up which validifies his feelings, and he is excited for what is coming. Recently, Paul has started to focus on expanding the gallery component of Objects of Desire Artful Living which he has named the Collectors Gallery. Paul has dedicated a room in the shop just to art that has more investment value and pieces purchased will be provided a Certificate of Provenance documenting ownership of that work as well. Paul strongly believes that art collectors need to have pieces that they love but that is also native to the area. In Northwest Ohio’s case, that would be glass. The area is home to the glass industry, when oil was discovered in Findlay in the 1880’s the gas boom brought not just Marathon to the area, it also brought Findlay glass. At one point there were 16 glass works company at the area, including about five who just made tableware, a fact that Paul says isn’t well known. Nearby Toledo Museum of Art is home to the studio glass movement and has brought that type of artwork to the area. They have featured several of the pioneers of glass, including Dominic Labino, who’s pieces Paul has several of featured in the gallery for sale. Paul wants to continue selling well-known artists’ work in the gallery and assist others who are interested in collecting, for both pleasure or financial gains. To do that, Paul will soon be launching a video blog on collecting and investing.
Paul may have moved to the area for his job as a professor at the University of Findlay but it quickly became home for himself and family. He enjoys attending to the play and music events in town, he loves all of them and there are many! From the University of Findlay productions to Fort Findlay Playhouse to those at the Marathon Center for the Performing Arts, and the musical acts at the different locations throughout town he stays busy every weekend! If pushed to pick a favorite annual event he said he picks Car Tunes and Rib-Off in August, he loves the music, food, and old cars. Of course, food is another highlight for anyone living in Findlay and Paul is no exception. Stix tops his list of favorite local restaurants and he says their Brussels sprouts are the best he’s every had anywhere. The community itself is a huge part of why Paul and his wife chose to stay in Findlay even after his retirement, the community is friendly, welcoming, and supportive; something he has learned even further since starting art workshops in the store. Most recently they have been fused glass workshops where both adults and children make ornaments, landscapes, and other items led by local glass artist Kristen Dukat, who’s work is also featured in The Collector’s Gallery. Looking ahead, Paul is excited to expand his furniture and home goods selection further as he is converting part of the second floor of the shop into a showroom to showcase the Italian and modern furniture as well as high-end home hardware, mattresses, and tile. All of these expansions fit together to provide artful living for Paul’s patrons and allow them to live beautifully.
You can find Paul at Objects of Desire Artful Living, located on 214 West Front Street in Downtown Findlay. Objects of Desire Artful Living is open Tuesday – Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Don’t miss out on other community members we have highlighted through the community spotlight series, like fellow small business owner Doris Schumacher and Jody Combs and Abby Anderson, and Lori Ballinger Morehead. Make sure to support small businesses this holiday season by shopping local, especially on Small Business Saturday and check out our guide to check each person off your shopping list while shopping local!