Today we’d like to introduce you to Eric Crowe.
Alright, so thank you so much for sharing your story and insight with our readers. To kick things off, can you tell us a bit about how you got started?
After the Ellicott City flood of 2018, me and my family wanted to do something to give back to the community. We saw many buildings vacant and hardly any stores or people walking and visiting the small town as we have always known it. All of us visited Old Ellicott City Main Street as kids. There are so many memories of walking up and down Main Street visiting the small shops. We decided to rent a building and develop a retail concept that would be fun and unique for people to visit.
I have always been a fan of fantasy, sci-fi, pop-culture, horror movies and collectibles. After many months of touring buildings and coming up with ideas, we finally landed on a concept that would be a dessert shop serving local artisan-crafted authentic Italian gelato, surrounded by art, collectibles, jewelry and props made by the makers and creators of everything fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. And oh yeah, why not throw in a full book store on the second-level mezzanine and two high-end escape rooms!
After months of the build-out and filing for the permits for everything, we were denied opening the escape rooms by the County which was a real bummer. After two years in August, we still get asked about the escape rooms and have recently just decided to take it down off of our website because it will never be approved due to the egress issues with the building.
So with a full retail shop and book store selling thousands of items and our World Famous Italian gelato, the best name for this little store on Main Street, Old Ellicott City was Unusual Company because the concept was so darn unusual and we have not seen it anywhere else in our travels.
This August will be a second year in business and we have had two celebrity horror actors perform signings at the store. We always have any celebrity sign our bank vault walls and Gordon Ramsey actually popped by while in town and signed the wall with a smiley face. What a blast and so much fun! We will continue that tradition by having more celebrities visit this October from the movie Jaws and The Neverending Story. We always try to do a free event as much as possible, which have included: live music, Pumpkin Carving by Food Network Star Frank Reaver and spectacular henna tattooing by artist Ambika. This July 3rd she will be back by popular demand where anyone and everyone can come get a free henna tattoo from 12:30pm to 4:30pm.
We love the community of Old Ellicott City and hope to be serving it many more years to come. The goal has always been to give back to our lovely community by introducing them to the wonderful makers and creators of the fantasy, sci-fi, and horror world. There are so many talented artists in those genres and we want to do our best to showcase them. From the small local Etsy artist to renowned special effects talents, you can find it at Unusual Company!
Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Well, I’m sure everyone will say COVID 2020 was both an obstacle and horrible challenge. With the store being shut down and the absents of revenue from sales, we were afraid the store would go out of business. If it weren’t for the help from our Landlord and County, we might have had to close the doors. I have to say the future looks bright as we continue to dig out of the COVID 2020 nightmare.
Another challenge is both my wife and I hold full-time careers while we run the business. We find ourselves working weekends finding inventory and late nights stocking the store. Without the help of our daughters Tara and Cali, we could not perform as well as we do, plus six other Team Members that Unusual Company employs.
Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
My career has been spent in the signage and visual solutions industry helping small to Fortune 500 businesses with their branding. I specialize in developing turn-key solutions to showcase a company’s brand and tell their story. For the past 26 years, I have been working with such businesses as John Deere, Giant Food, Starbucks, Weis Markets, etc. The largest customer I work with is the United States Postal Service. I’m the sole provider of all interior and exterior signs for all 32,000+ locations throughout the Country.
Is there something surprising that you feel even people who know you might not know about?
I love all Tom Cruise movies.
- Small Italian Gelato $5.00
- Large Italian Gelato $7.00
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: www.unusualcompany.com
- Instagram: @liveunusually
- Facebook: @liveunusually