There’s many natives who, whether residing here or in places abroad, maintain a fierce sense of loyalty to a town once occupied by rubber barons.
Whether these folks hail from North Hill, Goodyear Heights, Firestone Park, West Hill or places in between, Rubber City Clothing is a retailer that caters to the whim, nostalgia and pride of die-hard Akronites.
With Christmas approaching, this shop may be the Holy Grail for gift recipients with an affinity for Akron. More and more, folks like to shop with a mouse, and Rubber City Clothing lets you do that. But for bricks-and-mortar shoppers, RCC also lets you get up close.
Angela Roloff, RCC’s manager who also answers to “BigBadRockstarMama” on her calling card, bopped all over the store one chilly afternoon, sealing shipping envelopes to mail, which has been delivered to customers as far away as Japan, she said.
She’s friendly, quite social and loves the product.
“We moved around a lot when I was a kid,” Roloff said. “And we came to Akron when I was in junior high, and I’ve stayed ever since.”
The store has a sleek, industrial feel and it may be a safe bet to say there’s likely something here that all Akron lovers would enjoy. Even the red plastic flower pot hats worn by Devo and the Goodyear blimp and tire erasers many took to notebook paper during their school days.
And while some purveyors of garments, the thrust of RCC, may have limited choices as to what colors and logos are available on a particular clothing item, at RCC one can hand pick all three and customize their purchase.
“It helps people be creative,” Roloff said. “You can build your own subs and burritos, but not your own shirts. It’s pretty much brand new.”
The possibility of choice is dizzying. And the customizing printing extends to caps, ladies’ undies, totes, baby clothes, dog outfits and much more.
“We have all of our designs on a wall and the different colors they come in, and it takes 3 minutes to make any garment — and that’s with socializing,” said Roloff, pointing to a wall running the length of the shop. “A lot of people are like, ‘I just came in for a T-shirt, I didn’t know I had to make so many decisions.'”
A group of four notables smile together from a photo: Mayor Plusquellic, Chrissie Hynde, Devo co-founder Mark Mothersbaugh and The Black Keys vocalist Dan Auerbach.
Nostalgia chasers can wallow in garments such as Archie the Snowman, Wally Waffle and Lawsons, emblazoned with a milk bottle. Recent neighborhood-themed arrivals include The North Hill 44310, Kenmore, Goodyear Heights and Firestone Park.
“People are very territorial, not only about Akron but where they grew up,” Roloff said.
But one logo, “the No. 1 seller of all times that even has its own rack,” Roloff said, has a skull-and-cross bones theme stating “Akron, 1825, Where the Weak are Killed and Eaten.” Another tongue-in-cheek T-shirt says “I love Akro-Americans,” using a big red heart for “love.”
The selection is not lacking, so if you’re not quite sure what to choose, RCC will load a gift card in the any amount.
Either way, Roloff advised: “Love your city. Love it.”
Visit Rubber City Clothing at www.rubbercityclothing.com or at 18 N. High Street, Akron or call 330-434-4722. Hours: Monday – Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and during December only on Sunday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.