Owner of Ohio is Home, Tim Martin, folds shirts at his shop on Court Street.

Ohio University alumni decide to stay in Athens post-graduation, become business owners

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ATHENS, Ohio – Ohio University (OU) alumni are traveling to Athens,  this week to celebrate Homecoming Week, but some decided to stay in the area post-graduation and become business owners.

Tim Martin, the owner of Ohio is Home, grew up in Athens but decided to stay long-term after graduating because he saw an opportunity in the area.

“I think there was a small niche that needed to be filled here,” Martin said. “You really do have a lot of this kind of stuff in larger cities like Columbus and Cleveland, but I feel like Athens really needed that.”

He decided to design some of his own clothing and hand crafted wood art, in hopes of bringing diversity to this industry in the area “and something a little higher end compared to what else was already here,” he said.

Martin obtained a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from OU, which gives him the expertise to have a business like Ohio is Home, but the pride of Bobcats helped Martin decide Court Street was the place for his business.

“We are a pretty small university in a small town, but people really love the area,” he said. “I really just wanted to put a focal point on some of that southeast Ohio, Athens, and just bobcat stuff in general. I think it really resonates with people.”

More OU alumni have decided to own a business in the area partly because they grew up in Athens–like Martin–but, there are some who grew up in others places, came to Athens for OU, then decided to stay.

Josh Thomas and his wife are the current owners of Brenen’s Coffee Cafe. When Thomas was a student in 1997, he decided to apply for the manager position at the cafe. He got the job, and in 2000 he and his wife bought the store.

“It was like I was owning it already, for the years I was managing it,” Thomas said, making it an easy decision for them to buy the shop.

Even if it weren’t for the coffee shop, Thomas said he believes he and his wife would make their way back to the area after graduating.

“It’s a good community and we like it here,” he said. “Just like anywhere else it has its ups and downs, but I could see us probably coming back in some capacity.”