Candy, cards, souvenirs, and sundries line the shelves of The Shade Tree. A woman browses the card section while her son grabs a handful of individually wrapped taffy.
This season marked the 25th year that The Shade Tree has been in business. As a celebration, The Shade Tree offered customers a variety of deals centered around ’25,’ with one of those deals being a chance to win a $25 gift card.
While $25 may seem like it could go quick at a souvenir shop, Becky Price, the owner of The Shade Tree, always strives to keep her prices modest and fair.
“I keep in mind that people have to pay a gate fee and rent cottages and pay for gas to get here,” said Price. “There are a lot of expenses that go along with vacationing, so I work hard to ensure that the items I’m selling are priced reasonably.”
The items in The Shade Tree are not only affordable, but practical and unique.
“The Shade Tree is stocked with custom-designed items to keep our inventory unique,” said Price. “The Shade Tree doesn’t overlap with other stores in Lakeside.”
Price and her sales associates keep their inventory unique and relevant by perusing catalogs, attending buyer shows and merchandise marts and thinking critically about what kinds of items and styles their friends and family are buying. Over the years the store has experimented with different products and styles. They recently added a kitchen area and have refined their pet and craft sections.
Price has not always been a business owner. In fact, she was previously a school principal and holds a doctorate degree in education. While some opt for a more sedentary lifestyle in retirement, Price knew that she still wanted to keep busy.
“I bought the place and then three days later I woke up in the middle of the night thinking ‘My god, what have I done? I’ve just bought the biggest shop in the whole town and I have no idea what to do with it!’” said Price, laughing.
Price went to Columbus Community College and took classes about managing a small business. While this knowledge gave her the confidence and information she needed to proceed, Price attributes her sales associates and coworkers for The Shade Tree’s success.
“I would not be here and neither would The Shade Tree if it wasn’t for Lynnda Learey Osborne, Mary Ann Hein, and Kay DeFrank,” said Price. “They held this place together two summers ago while I was in critical care in Columbus, and they ran it the whole year.”
Price is also grateful to her sister Sally Young, and friends Pat McCormick, Cheri Cunningham and Carol Arntz (formerly Carol Luebcke) for helping her with the store.
“When it comes to longevity,” said Price, “I’m proud that this store’s still afloat and I’m still afloat, thanks to the unwavering loyalty of Lakesiders and my coworkers.”
The Shade Tree is located at 210 Walnut Ave. During the Chautauqua season, The Shade Tree is open from 9 a.m.-9 p.m. Monday-Saturday and 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday. The store is open on the weekends in May, and September-November.