Visit our participating Y.E.S. Franklin stores during May Mart and snag some free organic seeds and try your hand at gardening. Each store has a different variety, so if you visit them all, you will have enough seeds to start a small garden of your own. Partakers last year said their seeds grew and produced great results! All seeds are sourced from the Sustainable Seed Co, which uses wind and solar power for harvesting their seeds. Remember: Growing your own food is like printing money! It’s best for you and it’s great for the planet! Businesses with leftover seeds on Sunday that are not open will leave them outside. Help yourself!
Wiegel on the Water
The best way to enjoy our region’s beautiful waterways is in your own canoe or kayak, and Wiegel on the Water is the best place to get one.
Ryan Wiegel, 35, saw a growing interest in water sports and a need for canoes, kayaks and equipment in the region, so he opened Wiegel on the Water about five years ago. In addition to serving the local market, Wiegel on the Water reaches a broader market through online sales.
As an expert on our local waterways, opening the store was a smooth transition for Ryan, who grew up working at the family boat shop, Wiegel Brothers Marine that was started by his great grandfather in 1936. Aside from college and living in Kent, Ohio, Ryan has lived in Franklin all his life.
Ryan cites the Allegheny River, French Creek and the vast Rails to Trails program as some of the Franklin area’s greatest assets and says he has always felt the lifeblood from the area was the great outdoor adventure experiences. Out of the water, he enjoys the area’s timeless mixture of country, culture and history.
Ryan lives and breathes for the outdoors and spends his non-working hours on camping, paddling, biking, hiking and property maintenance.
Franklin is fortunate to have a true expert available right here at home. If you have considered upgrading your equipment or getting into paddle sports for the first time, there is no better place than Wiegel on the Water.
Bridget Wood was born and raised in Franklin and she can’t imagine her life anywhere else. She loves the area and when many of her fellow graduates were clamoring to get away to big cities, she was eager to start her own life here.
Bridget is now a full time mommy of three very active young children, so spare time isn’t exactly on her agenda. She wanted to help with the family’s expenses though, so two years ago she began as a Thirty One Gifts sales consultant. Bridget is now an independent director for sales.
She loves the flexibility her work gives her and the ability to relate one on one with all of her customers, not just on sales calls, but actually being a part of their lives through community involvement. Bridget said people in Franklin truly support local businesses, and that is important to her small business.
Among the reasons Bridget chose to stay local are the active downtown that is VERY family oriented, the beauty of our historic area, and all the many outdoor activities – anything from a walk in the park to our wonderful bike trails or the access the river. She said she especially enjoys how the city uses all those wonderful assets to plan activities for residents and visitors to enjoy.
Outside of work, Bridget is active as President of PTO at Central Elementary School and in her church and spends a great deal of time enjoying downtown Franklin with her family.
Michael G. Thomas, Age 28
Thomas Organization, LLC (French Creek Cafe, the Venango Weekender, the Venango Times, Venango Energy Associates, Thomas Property Management, the Overpass Entertainment Group, the Thomas Institute of Well‐Being, Connxion Media Group)
Address: Office, 302 Seneca Street, Oil City, PA 16301; French Creek Café, 1242 Liberty Street, Franklin PA 16323
Born and raised in Franklin, Mike has also lived in other areas of the country, including Maui. He earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Neuroscience and Vocal Performance from Allegheny College in Meadville, PA in 2006. His historical and emotional connection to the area brought him back, where he has been growing the Thomas Organization since January of 2008.
He had a desire to build a life here and the ample development and investment opportunities in the Franklin area made it an ideal choice for a place to start his organization. Mike’s organization has its hand in everything from restaurants – French Creek Café in downtown Franklin – Newspapers – The Venango Weekender, a weekly community newspaper – to real estate and music production.
Mike is always looking for some way to help improve the local community through his business ventures. He is currently working on a project that could have a major impact on Franklin’s downtown landscape. We will share more details on that project as they become available!
Mike’s company has made donations to Salvation Army; have made donations (in 2012) to FHS, OCHS, RGHS, OCHS Baseball, Franklin YMCA, Magic All‐Star Cheerleading, the Caring Place and Golden Living Retirement Center.
Outside of work, he can be found kayaking, hiking, traveling and entertaining, soaking up the small town atmosphere, quality school district and gorgeous scenery, that make this area an ideal place to raise a family.
Albert Abramovic, Age 30
Penn North Financial Services
501 3rd Street Franklin, PA 16323
Our spotlight this week is on Albert Abramovic, a Franklin native whose family business has instilled in him a desire to give back to the community.
Upon earning his BS in Finance from Robert Morris University, he lived in Erie and Pittsburgh before returning to Venango County. He came back to Franklin and started with Penn North Financial Services in 2011, where he works as a Financial Advisor/Stock Broker with the firm. He is licensed with Series 7, 63, Property/Casualty.
Albert, whose family owns Sleepy Hollow Golf Course just outside of Franklin, grew up seeing how much local support can positively impact a business. When he came home to pursue his career in Financial Services and to help run the course, he didn’t forget that lesson.
“After being involved with a business in the community for over 26 years, which has made me who I am, I try to be as involved in the community as much as I can. With that in mind I am dedicated to giving my time to help give back to local community,” he said.
He is a board member of the local Elks Lodge; participant on the Applefest Core Committee; member of the Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce; appointed officer and member of the local Masonic lodge; member of the Oil Region Alliance’s Young Professionals Advisory Council; and he founded Taking Care of Business (TCB), a happy hour group that meets once a month and collects donations for local non-profit organizations. TCB meets at a different location on the third Friday of every month for networking and has given thousands of dollars worth of donations to various organizations over the past year. Watch TCB = Taking Care of Business on Facebook for announcements of locations and beneficiaries.
Albert said what he enjoys most about Franklin is the small town friendliness and said Franklin is a great place to start a business and raise a family.
“There is a lot to enjoy in Venango County. Franklin is located in a beautiful setting; there is a lot to appreciate from the rivers, the parks, the outdoors, and the wild life. Liberty Street might be one of the most picturesque city streets in the country.”
Elizabeth E. Breene, Age 26
Salon Dolce, 507 13th Street Franklin PA 16323
Website: Check us out on Facebook “Salon Dolce”
This week’s profile is on a true hometown girl. Elizabeth Breene, owner of Salon Dolce hair and tanning salon, always knew Franklin was where she wanted to be. After graduating from Rocky Grove High School and the Tri-State Beauty Academy where she earned many awards and achievements, Elizabeth came home and went to work for a local salon. It wasn’t long though, before she and her family set to work on creating her dream of her very own salon. Construction in the salon started in December 2010, and the Salon was opened for business January 31, 2011. Since that time, she has grown her business so much that she has been able to hire an additional stylist, Missy Opitz, and is looking to hire another!
Elizabeth grew up and still lives in the area. “I have the greatest parents ever, Mark and Connie Breene, and couldn’t imagine not being around them and living in Franklin!”
“I believe Franklin is a remarkable, thriving little town. The people and residents of Franklin you will never find anywhere else,“ she said. Elizabeth also remarked about the loyalty of customers in Franklin: “I believe if you offer the people of Franklin and surrounding area great customer service and competitive prices it will keep them and their friends and family visiting your business.”
Outside the salon, Elizabeth enjoys riding and showing her horse, Eltee, target practice, boating and camping and spending time with family and friends. She is a member of American quarter horse Association.
“I am definitely not a city girl, so I enjoy the small town, country feel that Franklin and its surrounding areas offer.
“Without the strong support from my parents, and all the help of my brother Corey Breene and my boyfriend Mike Amoroso, actually building the salon (they put loads of hours in construction), I most definitely wouldn’t be where I’m at today!”
Kate Bodien, Age 33
Kate Bodien – Graphic & Web Design
For many young professionals, Franklin’s low cost of living makes it possible to take a flying leap into the unknown in order to open your own business and create the life you want for yourself.
Kate Bodien is a perfect example. Kate recently shifted from librarian (back) to designer. She has been doing freelance projects on the side since November 2012 and left her job of the past five years as Young Adult Librarian and Grant Center Coordinator at Franklin Public Library to work for herself at Kate Bodien – Graphic & Web Design in April 2013.
It was during her time at the library, redesigning the library website and helping build their social media presence that her love for design was rekindled. Though she loved working for the library too, she has found a balance now, continuing work for the library as an independent contractor as she seeks more design work.
Kate received her Bachelor’s Degree in Cultural Studies and Media Arts from Chatham College (now Chatham University) and her Master’s in Library Science from Clarion University (with the support of a grant from the Laura Bush Foundation). Kate graduated from Oil City High School and spent a lot of time in Franklin. After graduation, she lived in Pittsburgh and then moved to Baltimore, but quickly realized it wasn’t for her.
Kate said, “Like most small town high schoolers, I couldn’t wait to escape my small town and move on to bigger and brighter places. And Pittsburgh and Baltimore were definitely fun while they lasted. (Oh, how I miss the big city’s takeout and museums.) But I constantly felt a pull to be closer to my family, and I missed the woods and wide open spaces of northwest PA. After almost seven years in big cities, I started to feel claustrophobic. I am not one for the rat race, for long morning commutes and crowded city streets, for competition over parking spaces and living spaces. I need to see stars at night, to hear crickets chirp, to have space.
“I have always been an entrepreneur at heart, even when working as an employee. In rural areas like Franklin, small and independently owned businesses are the norm. Part of the reason for that is simple — there are less jobs around here and if you want to make it and be happy, you might have to create your own job. But also I think there is an increased sense of self-reliance in rural areas, more of a DIY, can-do attitude that feeds the entrepreneur’s spirit. It’s exciting, too, because it’s easy to start new things in a small town where maybe less has been done already. It’s easier to be a trailblazer or an innovator.”
Kate’s husband is a small business owner too – Handyman Bodien, General Contractor at www.HandymanBodien.com.
The life/work balance might seem especially challenging at the Bodien household, with three young children and both parents working for themselves, but Kate said being located in a small town like Franklin help make it possible. “Whether we are at work, at daycare, at school, or at home, my immediate family is never very far from me,” she said. Kate also enjoys the close-knit community she has found with her neighbors, the personal history her home and community hold for her and her husband, and the fact that her busy family has plenty of space – a large home and backyard aren’t always easy to find in big cities, especially for families on a budget.
Outside of work, Kate spends time with family, taking the kids on walks and drives and showing them all the wonderful lakes, creeks, waterfalls, swimming holes, fishing spots and farms in the area. In the summer they spend a lot of time camping and swimming. “All of my kids went camping before they could walk,” she said.
Mathew Beith, Age: 32
Beith Associates Real Estate & Appraisals
1331 Liberty St., Franklin, PA 16323
Facebook: Beith Associates / Mathew Beith
Our next member, we are proud to say, was recently named Young Professional of the Year by FLEX – Future Leaders and Entrepreneurs Exchange. Mathew Beith is something of a prodigal son, who sought to leave and never return after high school graduation.
Since leaving Franklin, Matt attained his M.A. in American Literature from the University of Albany in New York and has lived in Middlebury, VT, Boston, MA, Portland, ME, Pittsburgh, PA and Stuyvesant, NY. He decided to return to the area in January of 2012 for myriad reasons.
Growing up in Franklin, Matt experienced a sense of community that he didn’t find in larger metropolitan areas. That community and the ability to get involved and positively affect change, were two of the main factors behind his return home.
Matt enjoys being part of a community that cares about one another and being able to make a positive impact on the present and future of the community. He is actively involved in The Bridge Literary Center for the Arts, which he co-founded; Franklin Fine Arts Council; Franklin Zoning & Planning Commission; and Taking Care of Business.
Franklin’s gorgeous natural landscape provides the perfect backdrop for Matt’s favorite activities: Reading; Writing; Walking the woods and bike trails with his dog, Seamus; Bike Riding and Running. He also spends his spare time organizing and hosting open mic nights, teaching writing workshops and with friends.
Coming up on May 4 & 5, Y.E.S. Franklin will hold our first promotional event, our Garden Giveaway Tour! Ten participating Y.E.S. businesses will give away vegetable seed packets as a way to promote healthy living and sustainable practices, as well as to draw visitors from the park into the downtown to see our unique, independently owned shops and restaurants. May Mart, sponsored by the Franklin Gardeners Association, is held on the first weekend in May each year. Maps of the businesses participating in the giveaway will be available at the Gardeners’ tent in Fountain Park. Only 50 packets of each variety will be on hand at each business, so make sure you get yours early! *All seeds are organic, non-GMO varieties from www.sustainableseedco.com.
Age: 34 & 30
Bossa Nova Café & Roastery
1236 Liberty Street, Franklin, PA 16323
Our next profile features a husband and wife couple – one Franklin native and one who has traveled a very long way to make Franklin her home.
Michael and Gabriela Frederick opened Bossa Nova Café, a coffee shop, bakery and roastery, in October of 2011. Though neither of their educational backgrounds indicated that they would one day own and operate a coffee shop – Michael received his Bachelor’s Degree in Speech & Communications from Clarion University and Gabriela earned her English Certificate from Cambridge University and studied law – when the opportunity arose to become an integral part of the downtown Franklin landscape, they answered.
Michael was born and raised in Franklin, PA and Gabriela was born and raised in Brasilia, Brazil. She moved to Franklin in 2004. Michael & Gabriela have both lived in Brasilia, Brazil; Clarion, PA and Sarasota, Fl. They decided to build their lives in Franklin because of the potential they saw in the small town. It has a great community that supports its members, and showcase great zeal for its local business, they said. “Franklin’s community takes great pride in supporting its local business. Also, being a smaller community, it serves as great “starting point” to open a business and learn how to successfully manage it, at a lower risk,” said Gabriela. It is very gratifying to be a business owner in a town that recognizes the efforts of starting and building a business, as well as the importance and impact of local business in small town America, she said.
In their personal lives, Mike and Gabi said, “Franklin is a community in which you will be known and greeted by your first name. It’s a place where it’s easy to build strong relationships. In Franklin, you’re not just another number, you are a citizen. If you live in this town and give it a chance, you will feel as part of a strong community, especially the young professional community.” The Fredericks, like many that had moved out of the area, have returned to Franklin, and have decided to tap into the great potential this town has, and put change into motion. They are involved with the Franklin Retail Association & Franklin Area Chamber of Commerce. They were drawn to Franklin’s beautiful parks, bike trails and strong music and arts community. Another plus is that Franklin is a great place to build financial stability with a low cost of living and yet convenient proximity to a large metropolitan area, they added.
They spend their “free time” enjoying the company of friends and family, going for walks in downtown Franklin, visiting its various restaurants, visiting the local shops, the YMCA, the bike trail and bicycle friendly roads, and enjoy their time at home.