Columbus, Ohio USA
Return to Homepage

Dis 'n' Data
By Margaret Marten, Editor
October 2011


(C) Courtesy of Adrian Tara

Whenever October rolls around, I think of Yankee Trader, the incomparable party and novelty supply store that continued to attract loyal fun-loving customers through its doors on High Street near the North Market for almost half a century before closing a year ago. It was a huge loss. Huge place, huge inventory, huge laughs, huge hearts. Most folks around here remember owner Edith Holler who passed away in 2000. Known as the “Fairy Godmother” of Columbus for championing the causes of gays and lesbians in the community, Edie received the Torch Award of the Human Rights Campaign in 1999. Daughters Lynette Howard and Debby Williams continued her charitable work after inheriting the business. The store, Edie, and the sisters are sorely missed. The character of the old building and showrooms, unaltered over the years, ingrained with history, and the singularity of Yankee Trader itself can never be replicated. After the closing last year, I received calls from Yankee Trader fans who were having a very difficult time accepting it, and nothing I could say seemed to lighten the mood. A family business beaten by forces beyond its control – the Internet, fly-by-night suppliers staking out in stripmalls with plenty of parking for the Halloween take. Mostly when we think of Yankee Trader, we think of Halloween. So it’s not surprising to hear that Lynette and Debby are finding this time of year a challenge. When I spoke with Lynette over the phone recently, she assured me that they were okay, but still unhappy about the closing, and because October was always their busiest time of year, it’s a sad time. “I miss the interaction with the people,” she said, “meeting new people, just being out there. I miss it.”

When longtime business owners close their doors and turn in their keys, they need to know that all the years of toil and tenderness they invested in the community was not in vain. We are thinking of Lynette and Debby. Our thoughts are also with Karen Blazer who, due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, was forced to close her pub last month at 1205 N. High St. after 16 years. A mutual disagreement with management is how she summed it up. According to Blazer, it all started with the remodeling upstairs to make way for eight new apartments that temporarily closed her bar last fall. Other factors included a bout with pneumonia, heat deprivation, ceiling reconstruction, and noise complaints. “I’ve played music for 16 years,” she said, “and now all the sudden you can hear a pin drop upstairs. I hear the people walking and it sometimes sounds like a bowling alley. You can imagine what my music sounded like to them under their floor.”

This is not the end of the world, and certainly not the end of Blazer’s Pub. “It’s a complicated last year of my 16-year story,” she said. Entirely focused on reestablishing her business elsewhere, Blazer was ready to head out the door after our phone conversation to meet with a prospective landlord. She’s pushing for a parking lot, which would be an added blessing after all these years without one. We’ll let you know where she ends up so friends and patrons can carry on where they left off.

The Happy Greek has a new patio. The popular restaurant located in the Short North at 660 N. High St. had some difficulty bringing this project to fruition. It took two years to get permission to proceed. Owners Adrian and Michelle Tara are not only relieved that it’s completed but naturally feeling a great sense of accomplishment. The Taras have worked hard to keep their customers happy. A party room to accommodate large groups was added shortly after they bought the business four years ago, and now with the patio construction past them maybe they can relax for awhile. Enjoy the outdoor dining while you can. Trees and flowers grace the patio space. For those who prefer peace and solitude, the cooler weather in the coming weeks might offer an isolated and comfortable spot outside if you’re wearing wool.

The Short North Stage is trying to gain as much information on the Garden Theater as possible so the group can compile an oral history. If you or anyone you know has Garden Theater memories to share, contact Chelsea Coleman at 614-530-1516 or email

A pillar of our community passed away last month. Don Ruben, a criminal defense lawyer, advocate for the underdog, and regular at the Short North Tavern, gave his best to everyone, professionally and personally. In our next issue read more about this fine man as we pay tribute to his life and work. Our condolences to his wife, Lelia Cady, and family.

Email the Editor

©2011 Short North Gazette, Columbus, Ohio. All rights reserved.

Return to Homepage