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Family affair: A Gal Named Cinda Lou
By Wes Flexner

Uptown Westerville definitely has a historical feel, but being laid up right next to Otterbein College, there's still plenty for younger people.

The cobblestone streets lead to shops like Sour Records, Java Central, Old School Skateboards and a pretty unique boutique for new and vintage finds called A Gal Named Cinda Lou, run by retired teacher Debbie Bennati and her daughter Julia, a Fort Hayes grad.

It's a mom-and-pop shop in the purest form. When you walk in, you'll find compact discs and T-shirts from Early Man, in which Debbie's son and Julia's brother Adam plays drums. The metal band made some waves last year by putting out an album on Matador Records, a label traditionally known for indie rock. Debbie is incredibly proud of her son and can list off all of his magazine articles, features and tours.

But Adam isn't the store's only Westerville-New York connection. A Gal Named Cinda Lou is the only vendor in the Columbus area that stocks Wowch, a clothing line getting a lot of burn in finer boutiques worldwide for honing in on the psychedelic tendencies of animal morphs, like a split-faced lion-tiger or a skull-headed Pegasus. Columbus expats Matt and Max Wowch make sure the Westerville store stays stocked with their bizarre and in-demand designs.

And Adam isn't the only Bennati adding to the inventory, either. Father Jim Bennati, formerly a musician himself, put up some of his vintage vinyl and old issues of Rolling Stone for sale.

Another Bennati sibling, Jaime, has photographs in the shop. Julia has a line of handscreened shirts with cartoon images of cute pug dogs; according to the label, the proceeds of your shirt purchase will go to Julia actually buying a real live pug for herself one day.

And that's the beauty of A Gal Name Cinda Lou. It mixes the contempory and hip with genuine sincerity.

Framed next to the register is a picture of the store's namesake, Debbie's grandmother. It fits well among the vintage scarves, necklaces, handbags, sunglasses, Shrinky Dinks, dresses and jewelry that adorn the quaint building. Most of these items are found at auctions and are priced under $20. "Nothing is over $40," Debbie boasted.

The Bennatis pride themselves on providing a one-of-a-kind shopping experience, and on carrying so many items that you won't find again.

A Gal Named Cinda Lou
24 E. College Ave., Westerville
Web: cindalou.org



December 6, 2007
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