CANTON — When a Miami County native moved to northeast Ohio several decades ago, he wouldn’t have imagined he’d end up owning an extensive collection of movie-style props or even designing for NFL parties.
Doug Argabright, owner of The Personal Touch in Canton, left Troy after graduating from high school in the ’70s, not to work with theater sets or props or in catering, but to take a position with Chemlawn.
While working as a part-time bartender at a country club, Argabright picked up his first props — a set of topiary centerpieces.
“I ended up buying some of their centerpieces,” he recalled. He and some friends made several more to match and “it snowballed.”
Working at the country club and making props for weddings led Argabright to the event industry and to owning his own business.
“We do a little over 225 events a year,” Argabright said of his event business. “It’s not uncommon that we have four, five, six weddings going on in a weekend.”
But it’s the ever-growing collection of Hollywood-quality props that has “just flourished,” he said.
“We’ve worked very hard at it and we’ve kind of created a niche in the field and nobody else does what we do,” Argabright said.
From iconic movie monsters like the Predator and Pumpkinhead, to life-size animals, mannequins, lampposts and more, Argabright’s collection has flourished over the years. They’re housed in a climate-controlled, 12,000-square-foot warehouse in Canton.
Most items in the collection also have a story.
“A lot of times, I hate to say, we fall into things,” he said. “I recall one time going up into the Akron area and driving by a putt-putt. I happened to see this great big whale and a dinosaur sitting out in the mud.
“A lot of things fall into my lap.”
One of his windfalls was a full-size elephant. Argabright had tried to buy the 13-foot elephant from a miniature golf course after it closed, but couldn’t come to an agreement on the price with its owner.
“Some kids from a high school stole it and put it in front of the school,” he recalled. “I contacted the school and their exact words were: ‘Get this damn thing out of here, we can’t get one of our buses in.’”
Argabright’s team of artists went to work rehabilitating the elephant, which is now a popular piece for parties.
“I’ve got a circle of very, very talented artists. Carpenters, some seamstresses, painters. I’ve got a good circle of people I can call on to fix anything,” he said.
Argabright’s business provides props, lighting and decor for weddings, high school dances, fundraisers, and events at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as well as bar tending at several area venues.
“We’ve been part of doing things for Warren Moon, Emmitt Smith, Jerry Rice, we’ve done some things for Roger Goodell. It’s been a nice relationship,” he said. “I’ve been very fortunate.”
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