LIMA — A grassroots effort to inspire local artists and mentor young entrepreneurs has formed to make Lima cool again.
The idea came from a collective of small business owners and local artists who wanted to showcase what was already happening in Lima: The concerts. Bands recording original music. The gaming nights and artist workshops. The local businesses that are successful despite competition from Amazon.
“We’re just trying to make people aware of what is happening in this town,” said Omar Zehery, founder of Rustgaze Records and Legacy Sounds. “It seems when you talk to people there’s a ceiling to people’s expectations of what can happen.”
Zehery joined Marc Bowker, owner of Alter Ego Comics; Jennifer Brogee, co-owner of Shop for Good and The Meeting Place on Market; Sarah Stover, co-owner of Shop for Good; and Kayla Nocera, another partner with Shop for Good, Legacy Sounds and Rustgaze Records; to form the Legacy Arts.
Together, the Legacy Arts collective will refurbish a property on Main Street into a collaborative space for entrepreneurs and artists. But the idea is about more than fostering an incubator space.
Members of the group have been hosting concerts and large events in Lima for years, albeit separately from one another. Now, the Legacy Arts collective will hold its own concerts and events throughout the year.
The group will make its debut Saturday with the Legacy Arts Street Party, eight hours of live music, food, drinks and art in downtown Lima.
“It was something we wanted to see happen,” Nocera said. “We were like — let’s just do it. We don’t have to wait for somebody else.”
The street party started small, Nocera said, but quickly grew to encompass three regional bands and more than 20 art vendors.
“(It’s) just a testament to people wanting and craving something like this in this area,” she said.
While the group originally planned to move into a remodeled warehouse on Central Avenue, they have since found a new home in the original Alter Ego store, a 100-plus year-old, three story property at 230 N. Main St.
The comic book shop now shares a storefront with Shop for Good, which will reopen Monday after moving from its old shop on Market Street, with a pour-over coffee bar coming soon.
In the back, Rustgaze Records and Legacy Sounds are building a recording studio and performance space that will open into the soon-to-be CASA park. Zehery hopes to have artists who record albums in the studio to perform live shows in the same place their music was first made.
“It’s done in the spirit of events that we’ve been throwing since I was a kid putting on shows in my parents’ basement,” he said. “We put on a party that we want to go to. People will show up and be like, ‘Wow, this doesn’t feel like Lima.’ And what we say is, by you supporting this … is what would make this Lima.”
The second floor will be converted into retail and makerspace, with room to expand onto the third floor.
Sharing space and customers is an integral part of the collective’s business model, which may eventually grow to include more artists and businesses than the current members.
“We want to make it a lab. We want to make it a hub and encourage people that are either starting a business, into the arts (or) making something that there is a place for them here,” Bowker said. “We’ll share whatever knowledge we’ve learned along the way.”
Reach Mackenzi Klemann at 567-242-0456.