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PROFILES: Melaine Mahaffey
May 1, 2018
Mary Catherine’s Antiques, the shop that sits just a block away from Madison-USA at 1128 N. High St., just celebrated its 39th year in business. We spoke with shop founder Melaine Mahaffey to about Columbus’ famed Short North Arts District.

Tell us about your business?

I opened Mary Catherine’s Antiques in 1979. I was fresh out of college…I just opened a little store and got more interested in antiques and old things as a history major. I just slowly bought and sold and got more interested and learned more. My business grew from there, my mother worked with me full-time, we expanded after five or six years. I’m going on 40 years that I’ve been there.” Mary Catherine was my grandmother’s name. My mother wasn't in the antique business. She didn't know anything about antiques. She just wanted to use her mother's name.

How have you seen Columbus change over the years?

I would say the first 20 years, the Short North was very funky and a nice mix of artists and junk stores and seedy bars. It was a destination area. People would come down here to junk and to antique. It was actually, I would say, during the day it was a little more dynamic for my business in those days when the antique business was a little different. At night, it was just dead. After 5 o'clock, they rolled up High Street. Over the years, I would say, the Short North now... we still have some interesting shops, but it's changed from an arts district and a funky district to more of an entertainment district I think.

I think, when it’s all finished, then there’ll be room for everybody to do well. We’ll have the infrastructure and we’ll have the numbers. Then it will still be a destination place. I think all businesses, unique businesses like yours [Madison-USA] and the more common businesses, I think everybody will thrive.

How do you see Madison-USA fitting into that change?

I would say that what the Short North is losing, which would gain with a store like this, is it's different, it's unique, and it's not something you would find in a shopping center. This is what the Short North is trying to retain. This is exciting to see a store like this that is just carrying a different product. I think with a quality product such as yours, I would envision that you’re finding your niche. You want to be a business that people talk about.

There's a lot of people coming to visit the area, that are here on business. We didn't used to see those people here. We're seeing them now. I don't necessarily have the products that they want. Like I said, maybe a painting or a piece of jewelry, but big pieces of furniture. I would say clothing, quality clothing, is something unique. I think that a place like Madison-USA contributes to caring to those visitors and some of the new people who are coming here.