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Glean Embraces Earth-Friendly Finds

Creativity meets sustainability at Dawn McCombs’ Columbus shop, which sells repurposed and handmade items from local artisans.   

Dawn McCombs’ emporium in Columbus’ Short North Arts District reflects her passion for creating — from scented soaps and lotions made with fresh herbs or botanicals from her backyard to tiny Zen gardens built into Altoid tins, complete with baby Buddhas and teeny, tiny plants and stones. In fact, it was McCombs’ love for repurposing items that would normally be discarded that fueled her concept for Glean, which she opened in 2013.

“I loved the idea of having a store that has undertones of sustainability,” she says. “Thinking about how we discard things in our society, what we do with them, what the alternatives could be ... I feel like it creates an experience for the customers. It’s beyond just going into a store.”

That approach can be found throughout her 600-square-foot shop. From the moment customers walk in, they’re surrounded by quirky handmade goods from more than 60 local artisans, in addition to McCombs herself, who turn antique and often seemingly unusable objects into something extraordinary. 

“I have people who make bracelets out of bicycle chains, earrings out of fishing lures,” McCombs says. “I make journals out of old records. ... There are even clutches knitted out of VHS tape.” 

That appreciation for repurposing was shaped by the Youngstown native and former school teacher’s childhood. Both of her parents worked, so she spent a lot of time with her grandmother who nurtured McCombs’ connectivity to nature, as well as her creative spirit. 

“She was clearly from a generation where you just didn’t throw things away. You save them and then you reuse them,” McCombs explains.  “She used to paint on fabrics, knit, sew, she did macrame — the list goes on and on and on. Every project she would do, she always taught me how to do it alongside her.” 815 N. High St., Columbus 43215, 614/515-2490, shopglean.com

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