By SAM SHAWVER
Special to The News and Sentinel
MARIETTA - After 16 years, it's the end of the trail for Barb and Doug Griener, owners of Turquoise Spirit at 128 Front St. The couple is retiring soon, but hope someone will take over the business that features authentic Native American jewelry, artwork and many related items.
"We just decided over the summer it was time to retire," Barb said Tuesday. "Doug is on the road a lot. He's a safety director for heavy equipment construction, so I run the shop."
Sixteen years ago she was a nurse and Doug was already working in construction safety when they decided to give the retail business a try. For four years the store was located in Parkersburg.
"Doug's cousin in Lititz, Pa., near York, had a similar store that sold Native American items and agreed to help us set up a shop in this area," Barb said. "She also took us out west and showed us where she bought artwork and jewelry from the artists."
She said the Turquoise Spirit store not only includes items from Native American artists in the Southwest, but other inventory comes from artists in northwestern New York, Canada and Montana.
"We've traveled thousands of miles over a period of just two weeks to get authentic Native American-made works," Barb said. "We belong to the Indian Arts and Crafts Association and have agreed to sell as many authentic items as possible. So at least 80 percent of our inventory is authentic Native American and southwestern design. Many are highly collectible items."
The shop sells jewelry, pottery, Navajo rugs, Kachina dolls, ornamental shields, arrows and spears, as well as cedar flutes, pipes and Native American music. Footwear is also available.
"It's been a good business with a great customer base," Barb said. "We have at least 1,500 regular loyal customers. Many come from other states because there's nothing like this shop in those areas."
Her son, Mark Foley, said people drive hundreds of miles, from Philadelphia and New York, to visit the store.
Barb said the store is scheduled to close at the end of December, and an "End of the Trail Sale" will begin Nov. 1 through Dec. 28 with 25 percent off everything in stock.
Mallory Greenham, executive director of ReStore Marietta, said it's sad to see the Grieners go.
"But we're also happy they're doing what they want to do," she said.
"And we are hopeful that someone will take over the business or put another business in that location."
Barb said there have been some inquiries about the business.
"We would be willing to work with someone who's interested, to help them get started," she said. "And we would take them out west to show where we purchase our inventory."
Barb said arrangements for taking over the business could be flexible.
"We can sell the whole thing, including the lower floors of the building, inventory and business, or we could rent the building to a business," she said. "Or someone could buy the inventory and move the business elsewhere, although we would rather keep it here."
Charlotte Keim, executive director of the Marietta Area Chamber of Commerce, said Turquoise Spirit is a great retail opportunity.
"They're very serious about passing the business on to another owner, and the best part is the Grieners are the type of people willing to help anyone get started who would be interested in continuing the business," she said.
Keim said Turquoise Spirit has been a thriving business for many years, with a good following of clientele.
"It's a tremendous opportunity for someone who wants to get into retail in downtown Marietta," she said.
After 16 years in business, Barb said life will be different and less hectic.
"It's bittersweet for me," she said. "I'm a people person and enjoy meeting customers every day."
But retirement will give her more time with her four children and eight grandchildren, she said.