For those of you who may not know, the Clintonville Co-op—the store on the Crime Cats map beside the Halloween Tree—is closing. After seventeen years in business, the board has decided the small shop cannot compete with neighboring giants like Lucky’s and Giant Eagle.
For me, the Co-op will always occupy a special place in my heart, because it was the very first place Crime Cats books were sold. When I originally wrote Missing, it was created as a gift for my nineteen nieces and nephews. I never dreamed it would have the audience it has now. But, because the story was set in my neighborhood of South Clintonville, I printed some extra to see if some of my neighbors might enjoy it. The only problem was, I didn’t know the first thing about how to sell books—much less get them into a store.
The Co-op was first store I wanted to carry the books because it stood in the middle of the place I had set the story. And I wrote the Co-op into the book because it is perhaps the most symbolic landmark for the community of South Clintonville. Since opening, the store has become a daily hub for Columbus’s bohemian population. It was also the second place I had ever visited in Clintonville, back in 1998, just after it had opened. The second reason I wanted the books sold there was because the real-life CatBob and Neil Higgins lived down the street and they usually hung out in front of the shop, soliciting affection from shoppers are they came and went. However, I notice the store didn’t carry books—of any kind.
My break soon enough when the then manager of the Co-op, Trey, had made a late night post on the Clintonville Discussion Forum on Facebook. His cat, Oso (who was in Missing), had been in a fight with a black and white cat from across the street. My girlfriend and I were friends with both cats and headed over immediately to see if everyone was all right.
Both cats were okay, but Trey was upset. Kitty (my girlfriend) and I knocked on the door of Trey’s neighbor, who had the black and white cat Oso had fought and told her what had happened. Her cat, Tom, was also in Missing. After talking to both parties, tensions were eased and the cats were brought in for the night, and Trey extended an invitation to have Crime Cats in the Co-op.
I was given space on an old newspaper rack stuffed with some other books and CDs the store had been meaning to put out. I checked the stock twice a day on my daily walks and found I was selling lots of five every three days. My neighbors were reading Crime Cats! That trend continued all summer last year. During those first formative months, the Co-op also hosted the first Crime Cats books signing—which was the only one CatBob and Neil Higgins ever attended.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I say goodbye to the Clintonville Community Market, but don’t expect Jonas or his family to do the same. While the doors will close at 200 Crestview Road, they will remain open in the pages of Crime Cats. That’s one of the reasons I have continued to incorporate landmarks (They are landmarks to me, anyway) of the Clintonville I love. The world of Jonas Shurmann and his feline partners is my snapshot of a community that will continue to change, whether I wish it to or not. This is just part of that change.
I urge everyone to visit the store before they close the first week of November and sign the sheets of paper in the window. Be sure to look for my message. It started at the Co-op!