Did you know Ben Franklin Crafts in New Albany is locally-owned and -operated – and has been for decades? The Smith family moved from Milan, Indiana, to the area in 1990 and opened up the independent shop, which is located at 420 New Albany Plaza in New Albany. Unlike big box stores, there is no corporate office that mandates what Ben Franklin’s sells. Instead, the family and their staffers offer a personal shopping experience that is geared to customers and includes a great selection of clothing and gifts in their store-within-the-store known as Ben’s Boutique. Sign up for Ben Franklin Crafts’ newsletter and get more details about the store at benfranklinartsandframing.com.
Southern Indiana has no shortage of locally-owned businesses, and shopping at them can benefit our community as a whole. Spending money at an independent business versus a big box retailer means more cash in our local economy. And there are several environmental benefits too. Local shop owners are more likely to reuse materials and contribute far less to industrial pollution than corporations do. Plus – and this may be the best benefit of all – when you shop local, you’re supporting your neighbors, which feels really good.
TIP: IF YOU CAN MAKE IT A MONTH WITHOUT ADDING TO YOUR SUMMER WARDROBE, SALE STOCK FOR WARM WEATHER APPAREL FULLY BEGINS IN JULY, THOUGH IF YOU WAIT UNTIL AUGUST, YOU’LL FIND STEEP DISCOUNTS AT YOUR FAVORITE CLOTHING BOUTIQUES.
Drew Ellis is in sunny Scottsdale right now, on a journey to make a major league baseball team.
There are no guarantees. He’s not asking for any.
By Steve Kaufman | Photos by Tony Bennett
In February, Drew Ellis of Jeffersonville,
Indiana, got on a plane to Arizona, along with
thousands of other people escaping winter snows.
It was the warmer weather and sunshine
drawing him there. But he wasn’t going to sit
around a resort pool. He was going there to
work. He has a job in Scottsdale, which started
in February, with April not far behind.
For the next couple of months, Ellis would
be running and exercising, swinging a bat and
scooping up infield grounders, throwing and
catching. What he really hoped to catch was
Ellis works for baseball’s Arizona Diamondbacks,
who had their best season last year since the team
of Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling and Luis Gonzalez
won the 2001 major league championship. The
Diamondbacks won 93 games in 2017, third-best
in the entire National League, before succumbing
to their division rival Los Angeles Dodgers in the
Ellis wasn’t in Phoenix while all this was going
on. He was in Hillsboro, Oregon, playing for the
Hillsboro Hops of the Northwest League, Arizona’s
affiliate in what is called Short Season A. Only the
Rookie League is a lower designation.
Hillsboro did the parent club one better, winning
its league pennant, beating out the Eugene (Ore.)
Emeralds, a Chicago Cubs affiliate; the Boise
(Idaho) Hawks, a Colorado Rockies affiliate; and
the Salem-Keizer (Ore.) Volcanoes, a San Francisco
Giants affiliate, in the league’s South Division.
Ellis was the Hops’ starting third baseman once
he got to Hillsboro, hitting what for him was a
disappointing .227, but getting eight home runs
and driving in 23 runs in his 41 games.
“I played really well for the first 30 or so games,
then struggled a bit,” he said. “My power numbers
were good, but my average wasn’t where I wanted
it to be. Probably good to have those struggles
early in my career, though, so I know what it takes
to overcome them, how to work out of them.”
And now it’s on to spring training camp.
Hillsboro is far from Phoenix, and not just on a
line drawn on a map. It’s the lowest rung on a very
high ladder going up through four more minor
league levels in the Diamondback organization,
all the way to Reno, Nevada, the team’s Triple A
affiliate in the Pacific Coast League.
The highest rung on the ladder, of course, is
the ultimate goal – an Arizona uniform. A seat in
the D-backs’ dugout. Hearing your name called:
“Batting fifth and playing third base, Drew Ellis!”
For this summer, the Jeffersonville youngster
has set his sights on an assignment to the Visalia
Rawhide of the Advanced A California League.
It would be a promotion, all part of the climb.
It’s a slog. And a numbers game. Most of the
ballplayers in the Short Season League will likely
never get to the majors. Ellis knows that.
His short season was shorter than most. He
wasn’t drafted until June, in the second round
of Major League Baseball’s 2017 draft, the 44th
overall pick. That spring, he had been a key cog in
the University of Louisville’s march to the College
World Series. So, he’s now 22, a mere baby in most
professions but a late starter in professional sports.
On the other hand, a good thing about playing
sports is that your performance is out there on
the field. If you’re good, you’re good.
Ellis was good at the University of Louisville.
He hit .367 with 20 home runs and earned All-
American honors on the team that won 53 of 65
games, all the way to Omaha, beating Texas A&M
before back-to-back losses to Florida and TCU
cancelled the dream.
“It was a super-special year,” he recalled. “The
most fun I’ve had playing baseball – not just
because we were winning, but because of the
way we were winning.”
He also said “the atmosphere on campus was
great. One reason I chose Louisville was because
of the fan support. They showed up even when
it was cold out.”
It was a close team, too, and Ellis spent much
of the off-season working out at the UofL athletic
facilities with ex-teammates like Brendan McKay,
Colby Fitch and Devin Hairston, three of several
Cardinals who were also drafted by big-league
McKay was a first-round pick of the Tampa Bay
Rays. He spent the season in Wappinger Falls, N.Y.,
with the Hudson Valley Renegades of the New
York-Pennsylvania League. A versatile athlete
who played first base and pitched in college, he
hit .232 and won his only pitching decision.
Shortstop Hairston was drafted in the fourth
round and spent 2017 in Appleton, Wisconsin,
with the Wisconsin Timber Rattlers, a Milwaukee
Brewers property in the Class A Midwest League.
He hit .210 and made 10 errors in 44 games.
Fitch, the Cards’ catcher, was drafted in the 13th
round by the Philadelphia Phillies. He split the
summer between the Lakewood (N.J.) Blue Claws
of the South Atlantic League and Williamsport
(Pa.) Crosscutters of the New York-Pennsylvania
League. Fitch hit only .217 at Lakewood, but .350
The point is, it’s a long haul for almost everybody,
even the best college players. But it’s all part of
the dream, a dream so many young athletes have
Ellis recalled first dreaming the dream at
Jeffersonville High School, when he saw other
local players getting scouted by pro teams. “I
remember thinking, ‘I’m as good as these guys,
but I’m not getting any attention.’ So I changed
my thinking, and started working my butt off.”
He had been a shortstop in high school, but
Louisville coach Dan McDonnell moved him to
third in college because the Cardinals already had
slick-fielding Hairston. That makes Ellis’ prospects
on the Diamondbacks somewhat problematic.
They already have a third baseman. Jake Lamb
hit 30 home runs and drove in 105 runs last year.
And he’s only 26.
A scouting report on Ellis said defense is his
biggest question mark – “lack of range” – and that
maybe first base is a better option. But the D-backs
also have a first baseman. Paul Goldschmidt hit
.297 last year, with 36 home runs and 120 RBIs. He
was third in the National League’s Most Valuable
Still, Ellis knows major league rosters are fluid.
Free agency makes everything unpredictable.
Who knows where Lamb or Goldschmidt will
be in two years?
More important, Ellis knows he can only worry
about Ellis. The rest will follow. “They haven’t
talked to me much yet about where I’ll be,” he
said. “Wherever I play, my expectation is to play
as well as I can play. They’ll put me where they put
me. I’ve just got to do what I’ve always done, by
preparing the way I prepare. Do the little things I
need to do, to make sure I’m on top of my game.”
There’s a level-headedness there about an
outcome Ellis can’t control except to prepare for
the best so he can expect the best. Partly, that’s
a work ethic first drilled into him by his high
school coach, Derek Ellis, who also happens to
be his father.
And partly, it’s the result of a faith he acquired
while in high school, when he was baptized by
his friend, “one of best decisions of my life, to
He said he struggled a little bit as a high school
freshman, as so many freshmen do, not knowing
which crowd to follow. But since his baptism, he
said, “I know who my Lord and Savior is. And
life is easier when you have someone to rely on.
When times are hard or going well, through ups
and downs and struggles, it’s been good for me
to rely on my faith to get through those.”
He said he’s seen teammates make some choices
he wouldn’t have made, “not necessarily because
they’re bad people but because they haven’t had
a faith to help them out.”
There will be ups and downs in Ellis’ baseball
career, just because there are ups and downs in
that life for everybody. He seems well-equipped
to handle both.
And it’s not just because he can hit the fastball.
The holiday season is quickly approaching. According to the National Retail Federation, more than half of shoppers start to research and plan their gifts in October, if not earlier, though by December most of us still have plenty of holiday shopping left to do. To help you get a jumpstart, we’ve featured a few of our favorite local finds. But don’t just take our word for it. Go out and frequent these locally-owned establishments now and take the hustle ’n‘ bustle out of this holiday season.
Sapphire Boutique, which has locations in Jeffersonville and New Albany, carries the latest fashions, accessories and gifts for women and babies. Follow us on Facebook @sapphireonspring and Instagram @sapphire_boutiques.
Julie Gionatti is wearing a Pink multi color sweater dress by BCBG, Black button front rain dress by BCBG, handbag by Sondra Roberts.
Rachel Shipton is wearing a ruffle sleeve suede dress by Olivaliceous, Handbag by Sondra Roberts.
Both models wearing various styles and brands of jewelry.
326 Spring St., Jeffersonville
154 E. Main St., New Albany
At Lavender Hill, we strive to make our customers very, very happy. We offer daily deliveries to both residential and business locations. Our knowledgeable staff is here for you, be it a celebration, loss of a loved one, wedding or our favorite – for no reason at all. We’ll guide to towards the perfect florals or fine specimen plant, or pop into the shop to find the perfect piece of jewelry, scarf or artisan gift.
359 Spring St., Jeffersonville | 812.288.2388 | lavenderhillflorals.com
Whether you’re selecting a special gift, entertaining, or just need a little room refresh in your life, Madhouse is here to help. You will not be disappointed in the variety and uniqueness within this specialty shop that truly caters to any price range.
151 E. Spring St., New Albany | 812.924.7728 | madhousena.com
Locally owned and operated and situated in the beautifully developed Underground Station in the charming historic river town of New Albany, The Olivet is the only olive oil tasting emporium in the Southern Indiana area and offers the community a wonderful selection of ultra premium, extra virgin olive oils, hand selected from California groves, aged balsamic vinegars, whole spices and herb blends, Italian artisan pastas and sauces, handmade chocolates and truffles, a wide array of specialty and gourmet food items, and beautifully handcrafted, unique gifts. They also offer private tasting parties and specialize in custom gift baskets.
37 Bank St., New Albany | 812.913.4430 | www.theolivet.com
The Office Cigar Lounge
Kick back in big, comfy easy chairs and enjoy a cigar with your buds in the cigar lounge. There are hundreds to choose from in the huge walk-in humidor, as well as cigar and pipe accessories – plus we have a large selection of pipes and pipe tobacco – to keep you puffing and happy.
3700 Paoli Pike, Floyds Knobs | 812.993.0445 | www.theofficecigarlounge.com
New Albany Ace Hardware is locally owned and happy to serve our community for more than 81 years. What better gift to yourself or someone special than a new grill! New Albany Ace Hardware offers a full range of grills – including Big Green Eggs, Traeger and Weber – and accessories – for the outdoor chef on your gift list. We also offer a variety of other items, just right for stocking stuffers and more. Plus, we receive new items every week. Follow us on Facebook by searching “Ace Hardware of New Albany.”
1905 Charlestown Road, New Albany | 812.945.6633. | www.acehardware.com & search “New Albany” in the store locator
MESA is a state-of-the-art, collaborative kitchen-classroom, featuring demonstrations by established and aspiring chefs from Southern Indiana and Louisville. The collaborative space offers cooking classes and demonstration, and also houses a bookstore, pantry, to-go cooking dinners, cookware boutique, aprons, toys for little ones and more. Stop by to pick up a gift for aspiring chefs of all ages or easily purchase a gift card for that special someone on our website.
216 Pearl St., New Albany | 812.725.7691 | www.mesachefs.com
Him Gentleman’s Boutique
Him Gentleman’s Boutique is a one-stop shop for every man. We provide all styles ranging from everyday casual to looking your best on a night out. Want to try a new look? Not sure how to work certain trends into your wardrobe? We are here for all your styling needs.
314 Pearl St., New Albany | 812.924.7441 | www.himgb.com
Top Shelf Tactical
Come and experience a different firearm retail experience. We are committed to the highest quality products, the most competitive prices and 100 percent customer satisfaction. Follow us on Instagram and Facebook – @topshelftacticalfirearms – for our weekly specials throughout the holiday season.
37 Bank St. Suite 7, New Albany | 812.725.1115 | www.topshelftactical.com
Strandz and Threadz
Threadz has many fashions to offer, including trendy clothing, scarves, purses and accessories, plus we carry gift items like signs, teas, candles, local items, seasonal items and more! Strandz is an AVEDA concept salon and full-service spa. So, you can complement your new outfit with a new hairstyle, blowout or add some highlights!
322 Vincennes St., New Albany | 812.945.5480 | www.strandzandthreadz.com
LL&A Interior Design
Celebrate Your Space!
247 Spring St., Jeffersonville | 812.282.6606 | www.leslielewisdesign.com
Pastries provided by www.cakestoday.com
Friday January 20 marked the night of One Southern Indiana’s event, in partnership with Ideology for an expose on how to get more sales this year than last year. Attendees learned how to acquire more profitable customers or clients.
Author, speaker and Idealogy founder Allen Howie shared a wealth of practical ideas for making your marketing work harder in 2017, regardless of your marketing budget. Large companies, small businesses and individuals all left with new ways to make their marketing more effective and brand more powerful.
If you missed the event, be on the lookout for more, as this idea-packed session only kicked off our revamped, revitalized, re-imagined Sales & Marketing Success Series.
1850 State St. Paris Health Education Center
New Albany, IN 47150