Super cute in a crocheted mini-dress, Danyel Mershon beams like the bouquets sprouting around her Wildflower Boutique.
"My claim to fame as a 5-foot model," Mershon jokes with me as she swishes her skirt and laughs. "It's so much easier to visualize clothes on a person."
My gal pal Susan and I are flipping through Mershon's racks of kimonos and leggings fresh from Los Angeles to Yellow Springs, a funky Brigadoon of indie lifestyle.
We're on a shopping spree, escaping from Cincinnati to a parallel realm. For me, Yellow Springs is a breather from the mundane world. I've been stopping by for decades, sharing sidewalks with the Birkenstock brigade, the dreadlock-and-tattoo crowd and the women of a certain age who nonchalantly walk around in belly-dancing gear.
Yellow Springs feels part hippie haven, a vestige from the '60s heyday of the village's Antioch College. But in a weird way, the 21st century has circled back to the hamlet, coming to value the same organic food and handcrafted artistry that Yellow Springs has championed all along.
Mershon, a new kid on the shopping block, has already embraced this ethos, chalking on the sandwich board outside her shop: "Friends don't let friends shop at chain stores."
But she doesn't preach. The only other sign in her shop is on a handbag: "I Have Enough Purses/Said No Woman Ever."
Susan and I laugh and move on, fortified with carbs and caffeine from Dino's Cappuccinos and Current Cuisine. It's amazing how much shopping we can do on java and a berry-studded Italian cream cake torte.
At Heaven on Earth Emporium, owner Flower, aka Donna Blackmon, is unpacking her latest haul from the crystal fields of Arkansas. She sells the minerals in her shop, a labyrinth of clothes, shoes and accessories from nearly a century of styles.
As we continue, the incense tsunami flowing out of shops makes things feel repetitive. But the moment I dismiss Kismet as just another import shop, I spot killer glittery-gold spike heels from Pierre Dumas. The subtext in Yellow Springs, I learn, is never assume.
That lesson also applies at La Llama Place, where I think I can't afford the squishy-soft alpaca cape I covet. But at $150, a fair price, it's just down to color: cantaloupe or claret?
If You Go
Wildflower Boutique,232 Xenia Ave., 937-319-6042, wildflowerys.com
Dino's Cappuccinos,225 Xenia Ave., 937-767-3466
Current Cuisine,237 Xenia Ave., 937-767-8291, currentcuisine.com
Heaven on Earth Emporium,253-C Xenia Ave., 937-767-2000
Kismet,249 Xenia Ave., 937-767-8800
La Llama Place,224 Xenia Ave., 937-767-8650
Bonadies Glass Studio, 220 Xenia Ave., 937-767-7021
Urban Handmade, 241 Xenia Ave., 937-319-6049
Downtown Yellow Springs turns into a craft kaleidoscope during its Street Fair Oct. 10. Juried crafts fill more than 200 booths, with dozens more for food and drink. Food trucks dish up funnel cakes, kebabs and wood-fired pizza. Local bands will rock the garden stage, and the bounty of Yellow Springs Brewery will flow with its Zoetic Citra Pale Ale.yellowspringsohio.org
It seems to always be Throwback Thursday at Little Art Theatre, an authentic movie house unreeling hits since 1929. First-run films roll beside retro classics and rebroadcasts from London's National Theatre Live. Swing by concessions for Beyer's Butter Bar, a gooey blondie speckled with chocolate chips. 247 Xenia Ave., Yellow Springs, 937-767-7671, littleart.com
The perfect antidote to the incense-spiked buzz of Yellow Springs may be Grinnell Mill B&B, an 1821 landmark on the banks of the Little Miami River. Within Glen Helen Nature Preserve, it was restored in 2008, with two bedrooms upstairs and — surprising in a 194-year-old building — a handicapped-accessible suite on the first floor. $95-$115 per night; 3536 Bryan Park Road, Yellow Springs, 937-767-0131, grinnellmillbandb.com