Jean Leary
Jean Leary

WILLSHIRE – Willshire’s Jean Leary said earlier this weekend that she has always felt that this small western Van Wert County village is only one or two stores away from a bus tour. In June, she added to that small-town atmosphere with the addition of her novelty store, The Three-Thirteen Company.

“I grew up between Wren and Wilshire and attended Crestview High School,” said Leary. “I remember when Willshire was Mary’s Ice Cream, J and J Butler and Willshire Variety Store.”

Leary will never forget the day that she was approached by Kendra Miller about the possibility of buying out her small-town business and establishing her own store. Miller was the previous store owner with a previous novelty business.

“Kendra is right at the age when she has to haul her children all around,” noted Leary. “When Kendra called me about buying out her business, I was very intrigued by the idea.

“I said I would talk to my husband. When I did, he, too, was very intrigued by the idea,” observed Leary. “He described the idea as, ‘very intriguing.’ Kendra had the store done up so well.”

For much of her life, Leary has worked at Lincoln Financial in Fort Wayne. She decided that she could do both the home decorating and work at Lincoln Financial.

“I felt that I could do both and get in all of the hours that I needed,” said Leary.

Leary described her products as a mixture of rustic, home décor, pottery, special designs, pictures and her own little pillow situation.

“I pretty much have what people want or can obtain what they want,” said Leary.

In addition to her store, she has creative dreams of turning a room behind the store into a small coffee shop with baked goods, tea, honey and jams and an area to visit and enjoy the fellowship of others.

Leary noted that the store’s name came from a game her parents used to enjoy playing.

“This is a take-off of my mom and dad’s favorite card game,” Leary said. “This has really become a family project. My daughter, Libby, designed the logo and daughter, Hannah, a business major, did all of the set-up.”

Leary established her store by visiting several similar centers in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Columbus and Sandusky. Many of her candles come from North Carolina. In addition, she is building sales of various fancy candies.

“The girls help a lot with product choices,” said Leary. “Our son is involved in distribution. He is involved on the business side of it.

“I have always loved people and working with people,” continued Leary. “I love the people interaction. I love putting together things for people.”

In addition to her employment, Leary also enjoys volunteering at such places as the Wren Ball Park and the Village Ministry Center Board in Convoy, Convoy Community Foundation Board and Crestview Hall of Fame. She also serves as a communion steward and youth worker in the United Methodist Church in Convoy.

“For nine years I was a technical writer in Cincinnati. That’s where I met my husband,” said Leary. “We both worked for Cincinnati Bell. We met in 1991 and married in 1992.”

Eventually Leary and husband Jeff moved to the local area to take advantage of employment opportunities.

“It’s amazing how, when something starts out bad, it turns out good,” added Leary. “This gives me an opportunity to do something I really love doing. I’m really not a right-brained person. I can see myself eventually retiring in this work. I’m a little laid-back. I am looking forward to Christmas and what we can do with that.”