Guest blog by Heather Roszczyk, Akron Entrepreneurship Fellow at Fund for Our Economic Future
As always, holiday shopping has snuck up on me this year. It’s like my own little tradition: at the end of every December I vow to pick up little gifts throughout themonths—thoughtfully!—whenever I see something that reminds me of someone I love. And by the middle of the following December I’m always left scrabbling – thoughtfully? – for the gifts I failed to purchase. Thankfully, Akron has my back when it comes to unique presents.
Below are some of my favorite places to score those last-minute items that are individual enough to show you really do care.
1. Crafty Mart – Ok, so you’ll need to plan ahead a little for this one. Featuring oodles of individual vendors in three different venues, Crafty Mart ain’t your grandmother’s craft show. It is the place to score everything from exquisite jewelry and artwork to the cross-stitched Sriracha bottle that’s hanging in my kitchen. It is Akron’s marketplace for all things handmade, and not to be missed.
2. NOTO Boutique – Lauren Ward has been a fixture in the Akron fashion scene for years, and her shop continues to be stocked with items that walk a perfect line between classic and trendy. With clothing, jewelry, and accessories, it’s a great place to pick up a gift for a girlfriend or your cool aunt.
3. Akron Arts & Culture – Since this is an arts & culture blog and all, I’d be remiss not to mention our tremendous arts scene. Whether your gift recipient loves classical or hip hop, Shakespeare or stand up, I’m certain you can find tickets that will make them swoon. Ohio Shakespeare Festival, with their intimate settings and modern interpretations, are one of my personal favorites.
4. Countryside Winter Farmers’ Market – Think farmers’ markets are only for the summer months? Think again. Countryside holds them throughout the winter, staying toasty warm indoors at Old Trail School. You can grab breakfast and coffee, pick up ingredients for the holiday meal, and snag that hostess gift you forgot about until right now.
5. Northside Marketplace – Opening just in time for holiday shopping, Northside is a collection of local businesses under the same roof. You’ll find Akron Honey Company, Urban Buzz, Not Yo’ Daddy’s Hot Sauce, OY-L, Dirty River Bicycle Works, Taylor Soap Co., Rubber City Clothing, Every Blooming Thing, and loads more. Plus: cocktails!
6. Hazel Tree Interiors – Known for impeccable, locally-sourced design and the giant metal tree “growing” outside their building, Hazel Tree is also a great spot to source gifts. You’ll find high-end items like large-scale artwork and furniture alongside smaller gifts like funky plant holders and cute knick-knacks.
7. Gypsy Grace & the Vintage Goat – This shop may be the epitome of Akron quirk, in all the best ways. I never know what I’m going to find when I pop in, but I know that owners Angel and Joe will welcome me with a smile and a story. They sometimes describe it as a junk shop, but that wouldn’t cover the amazing feather earrings I scored there last year. But to call it a gift shop doesn’t quite cover the mannequin leg you might stumble on. Better to check it out yourself and tell me what you think. Afterwards, be sure to hit Stagecoach Antiques next door and Birchwood Supply Co. around the corner.
8. Memberships – We received a membership to the Akron Zoo last Christmas and it provided us with a full year of family fun. I’m all about experience gifts, and there’s no shortage of great options. The Akron Art Museum and Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens are great choices, or try a membership to The Rock Mill or Akron Yoga & Wellness.
9. New Territory VR Arcade – Speaking of experiences, New Territory is responsible for one of my favorite date nights of 2017, so it deserves its own entry. This company, started by husband and wife team Bill and Grace Myers, has opened two locations in its first year (downtown Cuyahoga Falls and Northside Marketplace.) For an hourly fee, you and your friends can don headsets and dive into a whole new world, from hiking distant mountains to slinging arrows at monsters. It instantly turns you into a kid again, which is priceless.
10. Don Drumm – No holiday shopping round-up would be complete without mentioning Don Drumm. If you have somehow never been there, make this the year. Yes, it gets crowded at the holidays, but with good reason. It is home to art and jewelry of every imaginable style. If you can’t find a gift for your mother here, I don’t know how to help you.
I’ll look forward to seeing you at these places… on December 23!