Olivera Bratich, owner of Wholly Craft! and Surprise! Modern Party + Cocktail Goods, is wrapping up a two-year term as President of the Board for Experience Clintonville. We caught up with Olivera about life in Clintonville before she hands the reins over to current EC Board VP Jonathan Barth.
How long have you lived in Clintonville?
I moved into the neighborhood after finishing graduate school in 2004 and ended up opening the shop the very next year. I can’t imagine any other place to have Wholly Craft and, in that same sense, I really can’t imagine living anywhere else. Clintonville really feels like home.
Most people know you as the founder of Wholly Craft! Where did the inspiration for the store come from?
At the time, I knew a lot of people who were making new, interesting handmade goods and there was no regular outlet for them in Columbus. I always enjoyed working in retail and leading projects, but I had never imagined myself as a shop owner. Turns out, I love it! I’m inspired every day by our vendors, artists, customers and awesome staff.
You have talked about how you’d never want to try to replicate Wholly Craft in another neighborhood. Why has Clintonville made such a good fit for your store over the years?
The support we felt in this community right from the beginning was incredible. People were interested in shopping for quirky gifts and I feel like our style of doing business fits in well with the neighborhood. It’s a creative community here and one that really has a history of supporting its local businesses. Over the years, nothing has made me happier than seeing the same customers come back again and again for over a decade. To watch neighborhood families grow up and to be part of their gift-giving and treat-yourself routines has been really special.
Where are some favorite hangouts for you and your son, Jovan?
We spend a lot of time at Firefly Play Cafe and Jovan’s favorite place to eat is Wildflower Cafe. He is especially fond of their bacon and Mom appreciates their cakes and Bloody Marys. We also make the rounds on all the great outdoor spaces in the neighborhood — Whetstone, Como and Brevoort parks are our favorites.
Where do you head when you’re kid-free for an evening?
I will take any and every opportunity to hit up Studio 35 for a night out! Even if I’m not particularly interested in the film that night, they have a great beer selection and comfortable atmosphere. Sometimes I’ll even just bring my laptop and get some work done in the evenings. (Note: I wasn’t here in the ’80s but if Sun Bubble were still in its heyday, I’m pretty sure I’d love nothing more than an evening of hot tubbing and cable television!) [Editor’s Note: For those not in the know, which includes me, according to ClintonvilleHistory.com Sun Bubble was a business located at 4495 N. High and for $6 an hour offered “a private chance to slip into a hot tub, watch some M-TV or a movie, listen to your favorite radio station or cassette tape and have a good time.” Fascinating!]
Where do you shop for groceries?
I love to shop at Weiland’s because of their samplings and recommendations — I’m no food expert so the advice is always appreciated and they’ve never steered me wrong. There are a couple pasta salads that are my go-tos for picnics and parties and their cheese selection is the best. I’m also lucky that Wholly Craft is right on the path of the Clintonville Farmers Market — the best producers in the state just show up at my doorstep every Saturday morning. My Saturday summer lunches are my favorite meals of the year because everything is super fresh!
Where do you shop for gifts (besides Wholly Craft)?
It is REALLY convenient to own gift store, but I do love to shop for vintage and one-of-a-kind items at all the antique shops in Clintonville. Eclectiques Antique Mall is probably my favorite place to get lost in. I don’t think I’ve ever walked out empty handed.
What are a few recommendations for places to visit for visitors to the neighborhood?
I’m a bit of a pizza person and my neighborhood favorites are Gatto’s for take-out and Harvest for eat-in. Harvest also has fantastic cocktails — it’s where I take myself for a fancy night out. If you are strolling and shopping in the neighborhood, I’d suggest popping into Global Gallery for fair-trade coffee and Dough Mama for a slice of pie. And if you need a breather, the Park of Roses is perfect for a quiet moment.