Un-storing the Store: How Hazel Tree Is Getting Back to its Roots

Photo of Hazel Tree on opening day eight years ago, featuring antiques, mid-century modern furnishings, architectural relics, framed wallpaper samples, and local art.

Photo of Hazel Tree on opening day eight years ago, featuring antiques, mid-century modern furnishings, architectural relics, framed wallpaper samples, and local art.

When Karen and Jon were joining their home-based interior design and picture framing businesses back in 2010, they were not intending to open a store. But then, in a most fortunate turn of events, Hazel Tree grew to be one.

When Hazel Tree first transformed the old Norka Futon building over eight years ago, it was more of a picture framing studio and interior design showroom. It was rich with vignettes of different sorts: locally-made furniture, antiques, architectural salvage relics, repurposed pieces, current day wallpapers and vintage fabrics, and a few artworks on the walls.

As the studio opened and grew, Karen and Jon were happy to let the needs of local artists and makers drive the direction of the space. Amid the new and repurposed furnishings, they started taking in more and more locally-made gift-type accessories for the home, and hanging the work of a growing number of local 2D artists as well.

Over time, Hazel Tree had officially become a store.

Fast forward to present day, 2018. The design and framing studio has gotten busier and busier, and every year has been greater than the last! At the same time, the artist economy in Akron is growing and thriving, and new art galleries and artisan-focused stores are popping up all around town. With so many places now for our community and Akron visitors to find the work of local artists and makers, our showroom no longer needs to hold that space as a gallery or a store for our local artists. (Which is AMAZING for the artist community and for our city!)

This all led us to one big decision: it’s time for the Hazel Tree design studio to get back to its roots. It’s time to un-store the store.

So what’s next for our building? Our team will use the studio to focus on what we do most and what we do best: we’ll meet with clients and customers to design interior and exterior spaces, and we’ll frame pictures!

Through all of this, we will never stop connecting our clients to the work of local artists and makers — it’s always been a part of our mission to do so, and it always will be! We’ll just do it with fewer pieces in the studio, and more one-on-one connection, or through digital resources.

As we un-store the store, Hazel Tree will look a little different. It won’t be as constantly programmed with artworks and smaller items for sale like it has been. The walls will have some glorious whitespace from time to time, just waiting for the next “something” we are interested in featuring, or sometimes we’ll be installing something ourselves. We’ll also become a pop-up space for shows and events for interested artists and makers.

Another new thing you’ll see when you come in is a new fabric display for Norwalk Furniture, since we sell so many of their locally-made upholstered furniture pieces to our design clients. If you’ve never heard of them, Norwalk Furniture is a 100+ year-old, nationally-renowned, high-quality furniture company — and it’s only 63 miles from us. Since we found their furniture line about five years ago, we have been so happy to be able to connect our design clients to locally-made sectionals, sofas, dining chairs, recliners, etc.

And lastly, from time to time, we will activate our outdoor space and our indoor space to be able to host events that are important and meaningful to the community at large and the West Hill neighborhood. While we will never be an actual event space, we are very involved in our community and we want to open our doors after hours to host things near and dear to our mission. In that process, we hope to be one of the things that holds our beloved neighborhood of West Hill together.  

For the last eight years, Hazel Tree has serviced our artist community as a store. Now it’s still going to service the artist community — just in slightly different ways. It’s also going to be a totally different thing for a different type of community, as Akron and West Hill continues to grow over the next couple of years.

Thank you for reading, and thank you for your support of us and the incredible Northeast Ohio artisan community that we have grown up with since 2010.

Stop in and see us the next time you’re over our way. We’d love to see you again or say hello for the first time.

P. S. Stay tuned for a trip down memory lane: soon we’ll post a slideshow of photos from past events and previous incarnations of the studio.