New Harmar stores draw from past

A pair of businesses combining the past and the future recently opened in Harmar.

Lisa Bammerlin debuted Brick Street Cottage, a store featuring her restored and repurposed furniture pieces as well as other artists’ works and vintage items, on the western side of the Putnam Bridge two weeks ago, while Kim and Rick Flowers resurrected Cheeseman’s Bait Shop, a business started by Kim’s great-grandfather in 1957, on Maple Street.

Bammerlin, 42, of Marietta, said the small space at 102 Putnam Ave. was ideal for her one-woman operation, at which she sells items that had once been discarded.

“I take and paint old furniture that has been previously, as I call it, unloved and uncared for,” she said.

Bammerlin doesn’t just restore the pieces to their previous condition but puts her own creative spin on them. For example, a table whose brown and tan paint was peeling when she acquired it now sits in her display window, repainted blue with a 1965 National Geographic world map affixed to its surface.

Not all of the merchandise in her store is her work – she has pieces by local artists and crafters with ReSolve Studios in Marietta, Rusty Lantern in Beverly and more, along with vintage reproductions and “fun finds.” She also sells a line of clay, chalk and mineral-based paint she said is safe for people to use regardless of health conditions, and is offering classes on how to use it to fix up old furniture.

Bammerlin previously did some work out of her home but said she now has time to focus more on her business since her children have started school.

“It’s very different from being a stay-at-home mom,” she said of being a business owner. “It’s overwhelming. It’s incredibly satisfying to know that I can create something that will make others happy, to create a home that’s livable, unique, one of a kind.”

Kim Flowers, 42, of Williamstown, planned to focus more on arts and crafts at Cheeseman’s Bait Shop, which her great-grandfather Lloyd Cheeseman owned and operated for nearly half a century.

“He came over here every day ’til the day he died” 10 years ago at the age of 92, she said.

Her cousin, the late Mark Cheeseman, took over the business, but had to close it a few years ago. Flowers said she didn’t spend a lot of time in the store when she was younger, but thought it would be a good space and wanted to keep it in the family.

“Originally I was not going to do bait,” she said. “(But) everybody was so excited that they thought the bait shop was opening back up. So we have a bait shop.”

Their offerings include nightcrawlers, mealworms and minnows – including the Baltimore minnows her father, Jay Powers, used to catch the many large catfish whose pictures are displayed on a wall in the store. But Cheeseman’s also offers mineral rocks and essential oils alongside fishing poles and tackle. She’s renting out spots to vendors and plans to add some antiques and crafts soon, too.

Cheeseman’s reopened during Harmar Days at the end of July, and Flowers said she’s still fine-tuning some things, including the hours. Usually they’re 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays and 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays, but she’s at the business more often than that.

“If I’m here, the door’s open,” Flowers said.