Rusty Stone opens in former flower shop

by Laura Bednar

The Rusty Stone offers more than just personalized stones in its recently opened location at the intersection of Valley View and Olde 8 roads.

Owner Martin Chitester had his foot in the door by selling his rocks at Graham’s Floral Shoppe, which previously filled the space. When the shop closed, they offered Chitester the location.

“I’ve been in this business for years,” Chitester said. “I have [similar] stores in Tennessee, and I moved up here [Ohio] for family.”

The stone and sand products he sells are all handmade and customizable. “I make cast stone in a greenhouse. It holds up better than natural stone,” he said.

Chitester creates custom designs for name stones, memorial stones, address markers and more on the computer and provides a digital proof before printing or engraving the design on rock. In addition to engraving stones, the Rusty Stone can print photos on slate as keepsakes.

Customers can also make hand-stamped pieces of jewelry. An employee will guide children or adults through the process of using a hammer or smaller hand press to create word jewelry including necklaces, bracelets and rings. Chitester said adults can schedule a jewelry making party, which is a popular option for those celebrating engagements or weddings.

For children, the Rusty Stone features a gemstone mine. Kids purchase a dirt mixture package and pour the contents into a sluice, or water channel, and use the flowing water in the trough to pan for gemstones, fossils and arrowheads. Chitester said time slots are available for people to book children’s birthday parties at the gemstone mine.

A garage door connected to the main building opens to an outdoor space with an awning roof, and Chitester said he adds tent walls to create a party room space.

“My fiancé, daughter and three grandchildren help me [with the business],” he said.

His daughter is a woodworker and creates laser-engraved wood products and customizable gifts. She will soon offer her wares in one area of the store.

Another of Chitester’s future plans is to add outdoor beehives on the property, which people can safely view through a window from inside the store building. This addition would include a local beekeeper to manage the hives and honey products for sale in store. ∞

Martin Chitester.

Photo (main / above): The Rusty Stone took the place of a former flower shop at the intersection of Valley View and Olde 8 roads. Photos by Laura Bednar.

Children can find gems, fossils and arrowheads while panning in the troughs of the “gemstone mine.”