It’s all in how you look at it – half empty or half full? Sherry and Jay Groom did not grow up in Alliance. But once they got to know the community, they saw it was full of opportunities.
“Alliance is a place where we could try out our dreams and schemes,” says Sherry.
Since 2009, the Grooms have purchased eleven downtown buildings and developed four businesses. The high quality of affordable property combined with the close-knit community makes it a business incubator with lots of promise. One of their enterprises is the Troll Hole Museum, which employs four part-time baristas/tour guides.
Sherry acquired her first troll doll at age five. She never stopped and eventually owned over three thousand troll dolls. That put her in the Guinness Book of World Records!
As a psychiatric nurse and owner of the Villa Maria Dementia Care Center in Alliance, Sherry knew firsthand the ups and downs the downtown community experienced. So she thought, if news media from around the globe were interested enough to contact her for a story, then certainly curious tourists would make the effort to see her troll collection.
That’s when she decided make downtown Alliance the home of the world’s only troll doll museum. The Grooms bought the building at 228 E. Main Street. It had been empty for four years. Three 6-foot holes gaped the roof and water poured in. It was quite a challenge, but what also poured in was community encouragement.
With the help of city officials, the Alliance Chamber of Commerce, Arts in Stark, the Alliance Area Development and others, the Troll Hole Museum now features more than 10,000 troll items in cool, fun settings that amuse tourists of all ages from around the globe, including the U.K. and Australia.
The museum also features the Grumpy Troll Cafe, featuring hand-crafted coffee, frappes, smoothies, gourmet tea, waffles and more.
The Art Emporium is located adjacent to the Troll Hole and carries a large selection of gifts, ranging from fine art by gifted local and international artists to souvenirs.
It specializes in unique, one-of-a-kind gift items – a perfect match for the one-of-a-kind Troll Hole museum.
Located at 40 N. Arch Ave., the Enchanted Threads Fiber Arts Studio is where you will find everything from the raw materials to make your own creations to finished products by highly skilled crafters in the fiber arts. Knitting, crochet and felting enthusiasts can’t wait for the Wednesday Night crafting classes. Full-time resident artist David McDowell’s exhibits are also popular attractions.
Through all of these creative endeavors, the Grooms are grateful for all the community support. “Rob Hankins CEO of Arts in Stark has been our mentor and without his guidance and support we would not have survived the challenges,” says Sherry. They heartily commend the support and cooperation of the 20/20 Arts Council and University of Mount Union, the Canton Visitors Bureau and the Alliance Tourism Committee.