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New store to sell OSU, OU apparel

Beginning this weekend, Irontonians will have a new place to shop for Ohio State apparel.

Mary Keith’s Fan-tastic store will open this Saturday at the Ironton City Center. The store will sell both Ohio University and Ohio State University gear.

Keith said she got the idea after realizing there were not many businesses around Ironton that sell state fan apparel.

“We’re in the state of Ohio and we don’t carry much to represent our state,” Keith said. “So I thought, ‘OK, let’s try this.’”

Keith is retiring after 40 years at the Ironton-Lawrence County Community Action Organization. Currently the community service coordinator, Keith started working in the Head Start program and has also worked in the senior services program as well as various other CAO departments.

“I did a lot in 40 years,” Keith said. “I hope I’ve helped a whole lot because I like people.”

With her retirement becoming official on April 3, the new business will give Keith something to do with her time.

“I’m retired and I just can’t sit down,” she said. “As long as I feel good I want to do something.”

For now Keith said she will operate the business by herself. She hopes to eventually hire a staff “even if it’s no more than a part-time person,” she said.

Keith said her grandchildren who are in school have already volunteered to help. She said she hopes one day the business will belong to them.

“I hope it’s something I can pass down to my kids and my grandkids,” she said. “I hope I can stay in business that long.”

The first-time business owner said she picked the city center for a location because of a push to get more businesses there.

To that end and to keep the existing businesses there, the Ironton City Council recently renewed an ordinance maintaining a low cost of rent in the building. The original ordinance was passed last year when Mayor Rich Blankenship received concerns about the high price for rent from business there.

“I think this type of store will be a great asset for our community and wish her all the best,” Blankenship said.

Keith said her choice of location was not only because of the low rent.

“(It was) not necessarily because of the rent being cheap,” Keith said. “There was other stores that offered me lower rent.

“(It was) mainly the idea of helping downtown and I hope to do that. I hope my business will be a plus for downtown.”

Fan-tastic will open Saturday March 27 at 2 p.m. in the Ironton City Center.