There’s no need to fight with shoppers at big box chains to find the perfect holiday gift for your friends, acquaintances and loved ones. In fact, there are a plethora of unique choices here in the Akron area, gifts provided by locally owned businesses, and many of these gifts so unique that they will have a lasting impact on the recipient, a piece of this city. From art, food and experience gifts that won’t clutter your house, to unique items that are made from upcycled and recycled materials, we’d like to present the Akronist’s Inaugural Locally Owned Holiday Gift Guide.
We’ve arranged entries by category. We also encourage you to frequent these amazing local businesses and organizations long after the holiday season.
(Keep in mind that this list is a work in progress. We know there are many more local businesses than those listed below. If you’d like to submit a business or organization for the guide, please e-mail us.)
Ages Tribal Arts Gallery
Owner Eric Schickendantz offers authentic artifacts like tribal masks and statues from such far-flung locales as Africa, Bali, Thailand and Nepal. The gallery’s offerings include ivory, one carvings, art and textiles, among this menagerie of cultural gifts.
194 Myrtle Place (in downtown Akron)
Akron Art Museum
While the work of international artists is not for sale, the Akron Art Museum has its own ready-made holiday gift guide (akronartmuseum.org/read/giftguide2013), which includes holiday cards, stocking stuffers, gifts for children and ornaments, among other items.
One South High St.
This Northside District studio offers glassblowing classes, group tours and workshops, along with a store that sells all manner of glass: bowels, marbles, ornaments and art pieces.
106 N. Main St.
Nestled in a nearly 100-year-old Tudor home, this gallery space offers fine art, classes and custom framing.
1765 W. Market St.
Don Drumm Studios & Gallery
Drumm is a local art legend, whose sculptures and murals decorate the city. The gift shop features jewelry, glass, sculpture, ceramic and metal works from more than 500 artists from around the country. And the shop also is filled with Drumm’s pieces, which are instantly distinguishable. The studios and gallery are a staple of the University Park neighborhood.
437 Crouse St.
With commercial and residential interiors, this store includes office furniture, dining sets, lighting, cabinets and rugs, among other items.
1969 Cleveland-Massillon Road (Bath)
J. Paris Designs
This Cuyahoga Falls-based store recently celebrated its new location, and features refurbished furniture, art and other upcycled items. The store is an eclectic mix of art and home furnishings, with a young talented owner who is sure to make an impact on the community.
329 Portage Trail (Cuyahoga Falls)
Part art exhibit, part furniture store and part frame shop, Hazeltree is owned by the husband and wife team of Jon Haidet and Karen Starr. The store combines art and interior design, with handmade pieces exclusively made by Northeast Ohio artists, along with custom frames.
143 W. Market St.
Standing Rock Gallery
This shop features artist-made gifts of all kinds, from collectibles and decor pieces to handmade jewelry and ornaments.
5194 Darrow Road (Hudson)
Home of the first Akron Beacon Journal building, Summit Artspace houses the Akron Area Arts Alliance and a budding community of art and performance. Many of the third-floor artists’ wares are wonderful holiday gifts, like Connie Bloom’s unique quilt-syle art (www.conniebloom.com), Cari Miller’s colorful, fun Akron-centric pieces (www.sunthingspecial.com) and Terry Klausman’s metal sculptures, among many others, including the Akron Society of Artists. This building also is home to the newly launched Artist as an Entrepreneurship Institute, whose enrollment would be a perfect gift for your artist friends or family members seeking to learn the business side of art.
140 E. Market St.
The brainchild of sisters Erin and Karyn Ludlam, this quaint gallery hosts art exhibits and sells the wares of local and national artists, from metal, glass and jewelry to wood, ceramics and photography.
20 N. High St.
Zeber Martell Gallery & Clay Studio
This collaborative effort features tables, lamps, wall art, jewelry and other items, with an emphasis on salt-glazed and wood-fired stoneware and ceramics.
43 Furnace St.
This boutique specializes in a mix of retro threads and designer labels in the Highland Square neighborhood, with clothing for men and women, from T-shirts and jeans to coats and dresses.
822 W. Market St.
Rubber City Clothing
This local T-shirt maker has made such a lasting impact on Akron fashion, with witty and clever hometown cultural staples, that it’s inspired a number of other T-shirt designers to get into the fray. The store features more than 150 different designs, from its Route 8 wear to “Ak-Rowdy” and neighborhood specific shirts, like North Hill and Save Rolling Acres.
18 N. High St.
What a Great Hat
Paula Singleton is an award-winning milliner (hatmaker) whose hats could be considered wearable art. From newsboy hats to wedding headwear, Singleton can create a hat for any occasion.
2855 W. Market St., Suite 202 (Fairlawn)
Nestled in the alleyway near Musica and the Uncorked Wine Bar, this clothing boutique is at the forefront of fashion, with fresh designs for women created by designers from all over the country.
76 S. Main St.
This Highland Square coffeehouse is a popular hangout, especially the outdoor seating in the summertime. Specializing in fair trade organic and rain forest alliance coffees, Angel Falls offers a full lunch menu (excluding Sundays), pastries and chocolate, with cozy furniture, regulars and free WiFi.
792 W. Market St.
Blue Door Bakery
This locally owned breakfast and lunch restaurant grew from a micro bakery in 2009, and offers a uniquely upscale breakfast menu, with brunch breads like brioche and ciabatta. Don’t let the modest blue door and nondescript building fool you. The bakery is so certain of the quality of its food, it lists the ingredients of its specialty breads on the restaurant’s website in a show of true ingredient transparency.
1970 State Road (Cuyahoga Falls)
The owners of this local farm won a contest by the Cuyahoga Valley National Park that enables winning proposals to lease farming operations on national park property. Residents can buy meat directly from this farm, whether it’s eggs, chicken, pork, lamb or beef.
2470 Martin Road (Bath Township)
These holiday baskets, made by United Disability Services, feature a number of local delicacies, from treats and spa packages to gluten-free delights.
Elaine Chin creates some of the area’s most popular Asian cuisine from this Highland Square location. The Cantonese dishes, and a vegetarian-friendly menu, are made with fresh ingredients, some of which are grown in a scenic garden behind the restaurant.
474 W. Market St.
Farm Girls Pub & Grub
Owner Abbe Turner creates an inventive menu using only locally sourced meats, vegetables, greens and desserts at this rustic restaurant, based in Alliance. Turner also runs the Lucky Penny Creamery in Kent (www.luckypennyfarm.com), and along with sourcing the goat and sheep cheeses in her own menu, she provides dairy products to chefs all over Northeast Ohio.
253 E. Main St. (Alliance)
Front Porch Cafe
This lunchtime restaurant, run by South Street Ministries, is a place of fellowship, second chances and positivity. With affordable fare like burgers, deli sandwiches, BBQ and locally grown specials, the eatery offers employment for those who have taken a rough road in life.
798 Grant St.
Heather’s Heat and Flavor
At Heather’s, hot and spicy-leaning foodies can select from a wide array of sauces, dried herbs, drinks and collectibles.
94 First St. (First & Main, Hudson)
This restaurant traces its history back to Bilbo’s Pub, and offers a wealth of local and national beers, gourmet grilled cheese and tasty appetizers, like fried mac n cheese bites with a side of Sriracha ketchup.
207 S. Main St.
At this Highland Square mainstay, residents can sidle up for some old fashioned candy and ice cream. Like many other locally owned businesses, Mary Coyle holds a significant piece of Akron history, the last of a chain of old-fashioned ice cream parlors started by Coyle and her husband in 1951. And now the parlor has joined forces with Michael Trecaso’s Italian food.
780 W. Market St.
Miss Julie’s Kitchen
This restaurant serves locally sourced vegan food, some of it grown by Miss Julie herself. The proprietor, a major part of the healthy local food movement, makes creative vegan takes on traditional dishes, which are well received.
1809 S. Main St.
Mr. Zub’s Deli
The portions are generous and the menu is uniquely cinematic at this locally owned Highland Square sandwich shop, with such movie-themed dishes as The Uncle Rico (grilled roast beef and tater tots on a wheat bagel), The Tommy Boy meatball sub and The Dirk Diggler giant hot dog.
812 W. Market St.
Mustard Seed Market
The owners of this popular family owned grocery store, Phil and Margaret Nabors, also are part of a growing local coalition of healthy food advocates, and it shows as they adhere to strict standards in the organic and natural food and health products they sell. The owners of the market and cafe also plan to open a grocery store in Highland Square next year.
3885 W. Market St.
Olive My Heart
This locally owned company, run by Ron and Linda Coleman, sells premium olive oil, spices and vinegars, and is a great place for the foodie on your gift list. The olive purveyor also features a tasting room, where tasters can experience olive oil from all over the globe.
5108 Darrow Road (Hudson)
The Peanut Shoppe has provided snacks for Akronites since the 1930s, and its fresh assortment of peanuts, chocolates, candy and mixes are like no other. This downtown business has survived many phases of Akron’s history and development. During events like First Night, the Peanut Shoppe typically has customers lined up out the door.
203 S. Main St.
This diner style restaurant serves a variety of hot dog specialties, locally brewed root beer and homemade custard, and customers also can drive in and eat.
350 E. Steels Corners Road (Cuyahoga Falls)
Stew Pot Kitchen
Walk into this downtown eatery on a cold day, and the smell of the homemade soups and stews made fresh that morning will surely engage the senses. The Stew Pot features a number of unconventional soups, like buffalo chicken soup, red eye roast pork stew and three-cheese tortellini mushroom soup.
23 S. Main St.
The signature burgers from this drive-in are a rite of passage for Akron residents, especially the Galley Boy burger and specialty milkshakes. There are a number of Akron locations, and the locally owned chain also has gift items available in its online store.
Uncorked Wine Bar
This wine bar, which adjoins the We Gallery in a growing cultural district in downtown Akron, is a comfortable spot for watching acoustic music or hosting tastings and private parties.
22 N. High St.
The owners of this popular lunch spot, which connects with the Musica nightclub, whip up customized creative lunch menus that are healthy and tasty, like pumpkin waffle paninis and mashed potato pizza.
51 E. Market St.
West Point Market
With roots dating back to the Great Depression, West Point Market is a third-generation locally owned business whose focus is specialty foods. For example, the market offers 400 types of cheese and more than 4,000 wine selections. The company also offers an online store.
1711 W. Market St.
Wild Birds Unlimited
Owner Chris Stranahan has loads of expertise on birds and has plenty of gifts for bird watchers and lovers.
597 Howe Ave. (Cuyahoga Falls)
Chef Johnny’s gourmet creole and cajun mobile restaurant offers catering, cooking classes and demonstrations, bringing the Louisiana bayou to Northeast Ohio.
P.O. Box 622 (Wadsworth)
Built in 1871, the 28-room Victorian Hower House is an historic staple near The University of Akron, and features the Cellar Door Store, a unique Victorian-themed gift shop.
60 Fir Hill
Just That Twist
This restored 19th century farmhouse has been transformed into a home accessory and gift shop. Known for its festive decorations, visitors here can find everything from artwork and ceramics to jewelry, lamps and fragrances.
1463 S. Cleveland-Massillon Road (Copley)
This store and house, built more than 160 years ago, are an important piece of Akron history. Along with hosting a number of events, the Mustill Store also is a gift shop, where residents can purchase a piece of Akron history.
248 Ferndale St.
Built in 1837 by Col. Simon Perkins, the son of Akron’s founder, the Perkins Mansion is now a historical museum, where residents can attend tours given by the Summit County Historical Society. The mansion hosts decorated holiday tours through Dec. 21.
550 Copley Road
Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens
Originally the country estate of Goodyear founder F.A. Seiberling, Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens features an historic manor house, museum and country estate. Originally built in 1915, the manor and estate also conducts tours throughout the year and runs a museum store and gift shop, along with hosting the popular Ohio Mart outdoor market each year. Be sure to check out Stan Hywet’s holiday decorations throughout the season.
714 N. Portage Path
Toy and Marble Museum
This museum pays homage to Akron’s toy manufacturing history and is housed within the Akron History Museum at Lock 3 Park. The museum’s website also features online games and terms and rules for marble tournaments. The organization also sells replicas of the Blue Santa, which was originally made in the old German tradition of Santa Claus in the 1890s by the American Marble & Toy Manufacturing Company.
200 S. Main St.
Actors’ Summit Theater
From romantic comedies to offbeat musicals and dramas, the Actors’ Summit Theater offers nearly 100 live performances each year, and is located in Greystone Hall in downtown Akron, which also houses the Downtown Akron Partnership.
103 High St., 6th Floor
Akron Civic Theatre
Aside from the national performers who visit the Akron Civic — from writers, comedians and actors to world-famous musicians — the theater itself is a work of architectural art. From its lobby that features medieval style carvings, columns and sculptures, to the atmospheric ceiling in the theater itself (attendees can see stars and clouds moving across the ceiling), attending shows here is a unique experience.
182 S. Main St.
The Akron Symphony has served the Akron area for more than 60 years with quality music from acclaimed musicians all over the globe. The symphony offers a number of classics, pops and children’s concerts throughout the 2013-2014 season.
92 N. Main St.
EJ Thomas Hall
This University of Akron performance hall has provided top quality entertainment to the community for 40 years. The upcoming season will welcome Art Garfunkel, Jingle Jazz, The Vagina Monologues and the Akron Symphony Orchestra, among many other events.
198 Hill St.
Situated in Maiden Lane, near other downtown spots like the adjoining Urban Eats, We Gallery and Uncorked Wine Bar, Musica is host to a number of local and national bands and acts.
51 E. Market St.
This community orchestra has performed for 15 years and hosts seasonal concerts, including a Christmas concert. Performances take place at various locations, like Tallmadge Alliance Church and Stow-Munroe Falls High School.
P.O. Box 1495
The Tuesday Musical Association recently celebrated 125 years of bringing performances to Northeast Ohio. Upcoming acts include Bela Fleck & Brooklyn Rider, the Cleveland Orchestra and Susan Graham & Bradley Moore. Tuesday Musical performances take place at EJ Thomas Hall.
One South Main St., Suite 301
This locally owned fitness center focuses on family, with childhood obesity programs, summer camps, five swimming pools and two yoga studios. There also are more than 100 free classes for members each week.
5133 Darrow Road (Hudson)
Stoned on Happiness
A local company comprising Stow residents Don Matis and Monica Baird, Stoned on Happiness is an online store that sells 12-step DVDs, bumper stickers, posters T-shirts and “bearded paintings,” in which Don celebrates his many years of sobriety by using his beard as a paintbrush. The overlying message is faith-based personal improvement.
Lynne Poulton is a professional organizer who offers residents a way to organize and declutter their lives, whether it’s helping people set up single spaces and entire homes or assisting businesses to organize showrooms and set up better filing systems. Poulton, who believes that being organized promotes a better quality of life, also offers presentations on time management, stress management and organization 101.
Woodworking Workshops – Richard Grell
Richard Grell’s a nationally recognized craftsman who has created period furniture, particularly Windsor chairs, for more than 40 years. In order to further the tradition, Grell offers fine woodworking workshops for residents seeking to learn this craft that focuses on patience and attention to detail.
2015 Norton Road (Hudson)
This local yoga studio offers 50 classes per week, including hot power yoga, helping residents achieve physical, mental and spiritual improvement. The studio also hosts unique takes on this practice, like yoga pajama parties and glow-in-the-dark yoga.
3045 Smith Road, Suite 300
Although the YMCA is a national organization, the Akron-based locations are deeply embedded into the communities they serve and offer a host of fitness and wellness programs. A membership here is a gift that will keep on giving throughout the year.
There are a number of locations throughout the Akron area
The used, vintage and consignment store is described by one Yelp user as a “huge gathering of random Americana.” Collectors of retro, kitsch and antiques will have a plethora of items to choose from, and visitors are greeted with everything from neon signs and antique furniture to an old, salvaged motorcycle hanging from the ceiling and industrial sculptures.
923 Bank St.
The owners of this store, who work at Hoban High School, are saving old factories, schools and other buildings from the garbage heap of history, and making cool stuff in the process, like picture frames, hanging lights and other home deco items. The company also sells its own line of Northeast Ohio-centric T-shirts. The pair who run the business encourage residents to stop by the warehouse and look through some of Retread’s reclaimed items.
This longtime Akron business has catered to lovers of antique goods for 70 years and is in itself a piece of Akron history, offering items such as sterling silver, restaurant china, old photographs, postcards and mirrors, among its many items.
449 W. Market St.
Donzell’s Flower and Garden Center
This local garden center is one of the largest in the country and it’s much more than a garden center, with Christmas trees, a greenhouse, collectibles and ornaments, among other items. Donzell’s, whose local roots go back more than 60 years, also employs a team of garden and horticulture experts.
937 E. Waterloo Road
Janet Rhodes offers jewelry, skin care products and home decor, among other items, but these items are purchased with a good conscience and a positive story: they’re all obtained using fair trade practices, which means they were created by age appropriate employees making fair wages in safe working conditions. Rhodes also sells original artwork created by children around the world.
134 N. Main St. (Hudson)
This gift shop in Highland Square specializes in fair trade items, from handmade jewelry and clothing to edibles like soup and cookie mixes and fair trade coffee. The gifts come from all over the world, but one thing is consistent: fair trade ensures that working conditions and workers are safe and it helps fight global poverty and oppression in the marketplace.
833 W. Market St.
Who knows what you may find at this pawn shop and jewelry store, located near The University of Akron. Sam’s has Ohio’s oldest pawnbroker’s license.
468 E. Exchange St.
This Highland Square record store is a local staple for vinyl lovers, and a cool place for T-shirts, magazines, postcards and even concert tickets. The store also has a gallery, where artists of many media display their talents, along with the occasional in-store live performance.
824 W. Market St.
This local music store has an extensive record and CD inventory, along with movies and concert DVDs. The locally owned business also hosts the occasional concert and in-store musician appearance.
2615 State Road (Cuyahoga Falls)
Whistler’s Glen Alpacas
This local alpaca farm offers an assortment of sweaters, hats, scarves and stuffed animals made from the soft wool of this small camelid.
8114 Valley View Road (Hudson)
We would be remiss if we didn’t at least mention the many philanthropic opportunities for those looking to give gifts that truly matter.
Info Line has a massive directory of community resources (www.211summit.org), many of which are in need of donations and volunteers. United Way of Summit County’s Volunteer Center (www.uwsummit.org/Vol_Center/volunteers.html) lists numerous local opportunities for family and friends to volunteer with a local nonprofit or charity organization.
Open a fund
Akron Community Foundation offers a number of opportunities to open donor-advised funds or scholarship funds, along with donating to existing funds, all of which truly are gifts that will keep giving. Visit the website and click “Give Now” or “Start Your Fund.”
Akron’s professional softball team plays at Firestone Stadium, which also will host some of Akron’s International Gay Games events next year. The Racers have game tickets available, along with a team store that offers Racers apparel and merchandise.
1575 Firestone Parkway
While the minor league baseball team’s recent name change drew emotional responses on social media, this team’s makeover has proven to be a savvy marketing move, as the team positions itself as more family-friendly. And the #quakron hash tags reveal that there’s bound to be fun in store this season. The team’s store sells Rubberduck-themed merchandise and apparel.
300 S. Main St.
Rubber City Rollergirls
Watching Akron’s roller derby team in action provides an entertaining experience for all ages, as these tough women assume various edgy personae. Single match and season tickets are available. Home matches take place at the John S. Knight Center in downtown Akron.
Stonehedge Family Fun Center
From bowling and FantaSea golf to arcade and pinball games, and the in-house Stray Dog Grille, Stonehedge has a deep history with Akron’s family entertainment landscape. Stonehedge also offers birthday party packages.
580 E. Cuyahoga Falls Ave.