Long-time insurance broker finds new career with bakery, antique shop

Photos by Tom Rivers: Hannah Pollard is shown at her new business, Catherine Street Bakery & Antiques. Pollard has turned a life-long love of baking and collecting local artifacts into a new business.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 18 April 2024 at 10:14 am

MEDINA – It was the height of the Covid pandemic in 2020, when Hannah Pollard started as a vendor at the Country Village Farmers’ Market in Medina.

There was a shortage of masks in the community and Pollard sewed 6,000 cloth masks, many in colorful patterns to try to make a difficult situation a little better.

When the mask crisis dissipated, Pollard started selling cookies, pies and other baked goods at the market. They carried the label of her business, the Catherine Street Bakery.

“I was going to leave the market but they were looking for someone to do cookies and pies,” she’s aid. “I did those and then added tarts and scones.”

Hannah Pollard holds a container for Wolcott’s Dairy ice cream from Albion. Pollard has seen many Wolcott’s Dairy milk bottles, but she said the ice cream container is more rare. She has other products made from local companies as well as antiques at the new business at 123 E. Center St.

Pollard enjoyed being a vendor at the farmers’ market, seeing so many people in the community. Pollard for more than 25 years worked as an insurance broker for Grant-Pollard Insurance in medina. She earned her license at age 19.

She stepped back from that career in 2016. A couple years before that she made and sold quilts, and in 2015 started selling antiques.

“My dad (Paul Pollard) collected antiques for years and filled the house,” Hannah said. “It’s the thrill of the hunt, and the figuring out the guesswork of what it is, how it was used, and who used it before.”

Pollard has combined her passions for baking and antiques with a new business in downtown Medina. Catherine Street Bakery & Antiques opened on April 5 at 123 East Center St. The shop is open Thursday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pollard takes Sunday off, and then bakes from Monday through Wednesday to fill her cases with cookies, tart, fudge and pie.

“It was go big or go home,” Pollard said about shifting as a vendor from the farmers’ market to her own storefront. Pollard will continue to have some of her baked goods at Roberts Farm Market.

She waited more than a year for a spot to open in the downtown. She is at a location that has been used as a gun shop and a tattoo parlor. Now it has baked goods, antiques and products from other local vendors, including soap, honey, candles and barbecue sauce.

Pollard connected with many of those vendors through her role as the craft show organizer at Lyndonville’s Fourth of July celebration.

Pollard said the baking and sewing combines lifelong passions. When she was a Girl Scout troop leader for seven years, she enjoyed teaching “homesteading skills” of baking, cooking and making jams.

The antique part of the business is a collaboration with her sister, Megan Szalay, who lives in Allegany County. Szalay does a lot of the hunting for the antiques.

The sisters keep a close eye on merchandise and products from medina and Orleans County. The currently includes a sledge hammer from the former A.L. Swett Iron Works in Medina, an ice cream container from the former Wolcott’s Dairy in Albion, a lantern made by BernzOmatic in Medina, a sign from Comet Cycle Sales in Medina, bar chips from the Ridgeway Hotel, and a check printing press from The Journal-Register.

There are other interesting items, including a cheerleader megaphone from the 1950s, a Boy Scout canteen.

Pollard sees Medina as a growing antique destination. Other new antique businesses have opened, joining long-time establishments. As a group they draw many visitors to the community.

“People will make the drive to come to five-six antique stores,” she said.