OLDE TOWNE EAST, Ohio — There’s a new way to explore small businesses in neighborhoods. Small Business Trails are making it easier to find new businesses to shop at and find others in the same area. 

What You Need To Know

  • Old Salts Leatherworks is one of several participating businesses on the Small Business Trail in Olde Towne East

  • The Economic & Community Development Institute has helped form these trails

  • Right now, there are trails only in Central Ohio in Olde Towne East, Westerville, North Market and soon Delaware

  • The hope is to add new trails and businesses often, with the intention of expanding the program across the state

Inside Old Salts Leatherworks, owner Brandon Ault is hard at work.

Brandon Ault sews a leather wallet (Spectrum News/Katie Kapusta)

“I can probably do these with my eyes closed," Ault said.

He’s making one of his most popular items, the front pocket wallet. He opened his business in 2021 in historic Olde Towne East, and while the area has changed a lot in the last few years, he’s hoping to see more people shop in the area to help sustain his business.

“Foot traffic has certainly increased, and we weren’t expecting it to be the floodgates," Ault said. "We knew it was going to be slow.”

Which is why the Economic and Community Development Institute stepped in and created Small Business Trails, including here in Olde Towne East.

“In Olde Towne, we’ve got Old Salts right here and we’ve got a couple of businesses at the East Market which is right across the street there," said Amee BellWanzo, the VP of Marketing for ECDI.

BellWanzo shows just how they work, a walk or short drive to other businesses. Right now, there are also trails in North Market and Westerville, with Delaware being added soon. And eventually, trails across the state.

Bell Wanzo walks down the street to show other businesses on the Small Business Trail. (Spectrum News 1/Katie Kapusta)

“Our goal is to master the program in Central Ohio and expand it to the state because ECDI does serve the entire state of Ohio," BellWanzo said.

Back at Old Salts, Ault says he loves creating leather goods.

“I always wanted to be an artist," Ault said. "Leather is the only thing that I ever made and was willing to put out into the world.”

He is hopeful he can keep his little business growing in a part of town he says he’s proud to be in.

“I hope that the change continues to be more organic and less forced," he said.

Visit the Small Business Trail website to sign up and learn more about current and upcoming Small Business Trails and participating businesses.