For over 30 years, downtown shop infuses herbs, local art

Ira Sairs and Ira Sairs

Supporting local artists is Calico, Sage and Thyme’s cup of tea. Calico, Sage and Thyme, the small shop located behind the Happy Badger on North Main Street, specializes in everything from teas and cooking utensils to children’s books, jewelry and gardening supplies. In May, the store will be getting supplies for herb gardens.’ ‘The herb plants are just the highlight of the year for me because that was my core love to start the store.’ said Barbara Rossrock, founder of Calico, Sage and Thyme. ‘I also love the children’s books. That’s a favorite area of mine and I work very hard at that because I want quality books in here.’ The store also sells reed diffusers, which are popular among students living on campus because they do not require any fire or smoke, Rossrock said.’ Rossrock, a former high school English teacher, founded the store in 1975 after joining the Maumee Valley Herb Society.’ ‘I was with a group of friends who made all kinds of herb products,” Rossrock said. ‘We did wreaths, salad dressings, herb mustards and blends for cooking and all kinds of things like that. And that interest led to talking about opening a store.’ Since the beginning, Calico, Sage and Thyme has tried to incorporate various items from local artists, Rossrock said. These include pottery, hand-crafted jewelry, calendars and animal portraits by local artist Lonnie Rosenberg. By meeting vendors and merchants at the Black Swamp Art Festival, Rossrock is able to recruit local and nearby artists to supply their work.’ The store gets a variety of customers, including a large contribution from the University’s faculty and staff.’ ‘I think we have a mixed range [of customers],’ said Diana Wilbarger, who has been working at Calico, Sage and Thyme for five years. ‘We get the younger people coming in for the Burt’s Bees products and we get older people that have just known the store because we have been here for 33 years.’ I think now, with the economy the way it is, there are a lot of people that are more conscious of shopping locally, so we’re getting new people that have never really ventured [to] this end of town.” However, the store sees far less students now than in the ’70s when fewer students had cars, and herbs and ‘earthy vibes’ were all the rage, Rossrock said. ‘The ’70s were a time when everyone was into crafts and making things,” she said. ‘It was actually a fun time. It wasn’t just drugs and hippies. There was a lot of really good stuff. The environmental stuff was really, really big and so it was a vibrant time in this community as it was all over the country.” ‘ ‘ Sometimes the shop gets University alumni who went to school in the ’70s and are now visiting with their kids and can’t believe the store still exists, Wilbarger said.