“We started talking and some months later began collaborating to open an artisan shop,” Lombardo said. “Joan became a partner. Becky Montague helped us with a start-up business plan."
This has become CrossTown Goods shop on the square at Milan, next to Inventions Restaurant.
Now, CrossTown Goods will celebrate its first anniversary June 10, during which the community can enjoy adult beverages from Wine Post, appetizers, gift bags, door prizes and more.
“We worried about not finding new artists,” Fisher said, “but they found us. More than we can take in.”
“It’s been a blessing in my life. This has turned out to be so much fun,” exclaimed Lombardo. “It’s an outlet for our artists, t37 of them, all local, to showcase their special talents. None of them is alike.”
World class photographer Arthur Gnecco is just one whose work graces the shop walls, as featured in a previous issue of the Reflector, and who is scheduled to speak on his travels abroad in August. Myrna Schlessman's vivid watercolor prints also are available. “Grandma Jean” prepares handmade goat milk soap along with many other natural products.
Several industrial artists who recycle and up-cycle by turning trash into treasures feature their unique items, many of which are one-of-a-kind.
John Brant, for example, is a woodworker who creates intricate itemsm such as a cooler stand with everything included in it that you can possibly need for your outdoor summer entertaining. Among other things, he also makes cutting boards, serving trays and decorative crates with old handles.
Fisher, besides her jewelry crafted with stones and crystals from many countries, makes “deck ware” of lighted chandeliers repurposed for outdoor use in trees, gardens or on decks. She also makes mesh-ribbon wreaths.
Greg Mello, of Sandusky, hand paints scenes on glass decorations for Christmas. Also a writer of children's books, who does his own illustrations, he will be having a book signing at CrossTown of his soon-to-be-released first book.
Also sold are souvenir tiles from Milan that celebrate Edison's light bulb. These are crafted of clay, designed and made at the Artists Open Studio in Norwalk, run by Linda Stoneham. Three-dimensional busts of faces, as well as plates and attractive diffusers of essential oils are available.
The shop is deeply involved in community charity events. April brought Autism awareness to shoppers with window signs, decor and appropriate gifts.
As “A Piece of the Puzzle,” CrossTown collaborated with the Fisher-Titus Foundation to decorate and sell puzzle pieces to raise funds and awareness of autism. Ten percent of all proceeds went to various local charities, one each month, and the shop soon will be participating in an Alzheimer's Walk.
Fisher also helped in planning a benefit dinner to raise money for baby Mason Gillespie to fund the child’s heart surgery. The event will take place June 2, at St. John's United Church of Christ, Milan. She donated and collected items that can be seen at CrossTown Goods for a silent auction.
“Our whole premise is to do community work. I retired after 40 years of working in nursing homes. Now Joan and I do this full time and I just love it,” Lombardo said.
She added she finds there is so much creativity in this area and so much heart that she wants to foster.
“Before school starts in the fall, we will collect school supplies with the shop being a drop-off point and will serve as donation point for Operation Seat Cover, which collects packs of new underwear for children.”