Downtown shop offers unique finds

OFF THE BEATEN PATH — Steubenville native Mary Ann Freeze admits her love of the unique and offbeat spills over into several of the product lines in her new gift shop, the Prodigal Daughter Treasures & Trinkets, 164 N. Fourth St. The shop carries an assortment of items, including artwork, natural products and faux furs.

STEUBENVILLE — By her own admission, Mary Ann Freeze’s taste is, well, different.

Freeze likes the offbeat, the eccentric … one-of-a-kind pieces you don’t see everywhere. She’s put as many of them as she can fit into her new shop, the Prodigal Daughter Treasures & Trinkets at 164 N. Fourth St.

The shop carries a variety of artwork; natural products, like soaps and beeswax candles; faux furs; air fresheners; pickle bandages; and wire jewelry, along with more traditional selections.

“I like unique things,” Freeze said. “I do have some things other people carry as well, but I like things with artistic flair. They may be things that take a little time for everyone to feel like they can walk in comfortably. I try to have a little bit of something for everybody.”

Freeze grew up in Steubenville, but got married and ended up spending nearly 30 years in Alabama before returning to her hometown five years ago. The idea of owning her own business always intrigued her, but she never quite felt like she was in a position to make it happen until she was home again.

“I just had this desire to do something and to do it downtown,” Freeze said. “I wanted to be a part of something that brought this big turn-around to Steubenville.”

Early on, she had her heart set on a small restaurant or bar, “but people, especially my parents, thought it would be risky.”

“I second-guessed myself, thought I should scale back a bit,” she added. “(But) I think I got myself in a position where when I said I was going to start a business, people thought I could do it.

“There are still people who think, ‘Why here, why not at Wintersville or Pittsburgh, but Pittsburgh has plenty of stores and Wintersville is doing just fine. I’ve always had a fondness for the downtown area, this is where I want to be.”

Freeze said anytime you start a new business there’s bound to be a get-to-know-you period.

“It’s going to take time to get people coming to it, to get them coming back,” she said. “There are definitely days that are slow, but, all in all, I’m pleased with the way things are going.”

She said timing was all-important, given how many people pass through the downtown going to and from Steubenville’s Nutcracker Village.

“It was important for me to be open by now to try to capture business from out-of-town people as well,” she said. “I read last year how about 35,000 people came through Steubenville — I don’t need all of them to come through my store, I just need some of them. It’s been good exposure for me so far.”

Freeze said she tries to use local craftspeople as much as possible. “Local is important to me, so is the connection I feel to the things I sell. This is definitely a quirky place,” she said.