Rubber City Comics thrives at new location

Rubber City Comics is the place to go for any comic book fans, young or old.

Rubber City Comics began in a small room inside Quaker Square, where it was called “Quaker Square Comics.” There, the store sold comic books but also a conglomerate of kick-knacks such as souvenirs, T-shirts, candy and more.

Now at its new storefront in Downtown Akron, Rubber City Comics focuses on comics, graphic novels, action figures, apparel, and other collectables.

Rubber City Comics outside

Owner Scott Malensek said there are three things that make Rubber City Comics stand out from other comic book stores: the customers, the free subscription service, and the consignment.

“We’re defined largely by the people right around us. We let the customers help evolve us and develop,” Malensek said. “And that’s where we have our focus. We’re a reflection of our customers.”

Manager Tom Hoff said the subscription service is flexible enough so that if someone wanted to jump on or jump off, it’s a quick process.

Rubber City Comics attracts a variety of age groups –from young children to adults. For these people, the store is not just a place to buy comic books and leave; many come just to hang out and speak the language. The staff enjoys talking with customers and hanging out with people who like the same conversations and interests.

“This is a destination. It’s the kind of place where people come,” Hoff said. “We have built a community.”

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One unique thing that Rubber City Comics does is host a comic fan get-together on the last Saturday of every month. From 2:30 p.m. to 5 p.m., guests can watch a comic-related movie as well as discuss ideas.

If you’re a comic book fan, or are interested in becoming one, stop by at Rubber City Comics for a fun and unique experience! Their hours are Mondays through Wednesdays from noon to 6 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, check out their Facebook and Twitter.

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By: Zaina Salem
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Ely Road Boutique

Fashionable, affordable, and unique: these are three words that come to mind when reflecting on Ely Road Boutique, the brand new retail store in downtown Akron.

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Ely Road Boutique offers pieces that are timeless, ageless, and cannot be found anywhere else, according to founder Susan Pruitt. Pruitt handpicks the pieces from wholesale places, and wants customers to feel confident that they are investing in good quality clothing.

Pruitt and her husband first began the business solely through a website, elyrdboutique.com. She said wherever she was –whether it be at work or walking the streets in a city –she would have people stop and ask her where she got her outfits from. She then started being a stylist for her coworkers and friends, putting together outfits for them. She loved it so much that she decided to start her own business.

IMG_2457Pruitt was an executive assistant for a number of years, but didn’t get the satisfaction she wanted out of it. After moving from Houston to Boston to Indianapolis, Pruitt and her husband decided to move back to their hometown –Akron. Since their items would consistently sell out at fashion shows and festivals, they agreed to expand on their website and begin a storefront together.

“My husband and I are so excited,” said Pruitt. “I love this city and I see that is has really great potential. I see it coming alive year after year. I think the style and flair we have will work really well with downtown.”

Pruitt remembers moments she had growing up in Akron –from visiting the Peanut Shoppe as a child to receiving her master’s degree at The University of Akron. Because the city is so near and dear to her heart, she believed it was the best place to start her business.

“Akron means so much to me,” Pruitt said. “I want to be a part of the city’s growth and future, and a part of its culture.”

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Ely Road Boutique pays homage to Pruitt’s grandparents who lived on Ely Road in Akron and were a big inspiration to her. Her grandfather was a surgeon in Akron who saw great potential in the city. Her grandmother was a fashion guru who, having lived through the depression, would put together inexpensive outfits using her own unique sense of style.

Pruitt believes her grandparents would be proud of her and her business. “They always just wanted to make sure I was happy,” Pruitt said. “I want the business to succeed because I want to do something in their memory and I want tIMG_2467o continue their legacy.”

Not only is the name of the boutique special, but so is the logo. The logo, a woman walking her dog, is Pruitt and her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Huey Lewis Pruitt. Huey likes to greet customers as they walk into the Boutique, his tail wagging with excitement.

Pruitt hopes she can expand her business to do fashion shows and runway shows, while also collaborating with other designers. She also would like to learn how to create fashion videos as well as doing trunk shows and private parties as the business grows.

If you’re looking for clothing and accessories with unique flair and at an affordable price, stop by and check out Ely Road Boutique on 21 N. Maiden Lane in the Historic Arts District. The boutique is open Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Wednesday and Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. To see some of the Ely Road Boutique collection, visit www.elyroadboutique.com.

By: Zaina Salem
DAP intern

Enriching the Lives of Children at the Main Library

One of the key necessities of a community is to enrich the education of the younger generations because these children will one day take our positions of being the city’s leaders. In order to supplement their education, there is no place better place to look than the local public library.

Located on High Street, Downtown Akron’s Main Library branch serves the community like no other. The library is a place to explore stories and culture through a variety of mediums and is a place to gather with colleagues, classmates, or tutors to discuss projects and concepts. The library is essentially a hub for the creation and conception of ideas to blossom into success.

In order to provide young children and preteens with the knowledge and resources they need to succeed, the children’s library division implements a series of programs to support their learning.

The monthly recurring programs in the children’s library include Baby Tales, Preschool Story Times, Saturday & Sunday Story Time Sampler, and Paws for Reading, in which children can share a story with a certified therapy dog.

I had a conversation with Trish Saylor, the manager of the children’s division at the Main Library. She explained that the five librarians of the division collaborate to create programming for early childhood and school-age children, ranging from birth to age 12.

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Trish Saylor, Children’s Library Division Manager

I asked Saylor about her thoughts on the rise of technology and how the library ensures that the children still find a love for reading. She says they are incorporating more technology into their programs, such as a Minecraft program and Wii games.  But reading is still the central idea of their programming. “We don’t care what format you use to read, whether it’s a book, an audio book, or on your device, it’s still reading.” With the passing of the levy this past May, the librarians are very excited more room is available in the budget to continue to introduce technology.

She mentioned that many library patrons do not realize how much downloadable material the library can offer. Saylor introduced me to a new platform available called Hoopla, in which anyone can digitally stream eBooks, music, and movies onto their digital devices, allowing ten loans per month per library card. This is definitely something I will begin to take advantage of!image3

Lastly, Saylor spoke of a trend many libraries have begun to embrace. This trend is community engagement. The library is able to be a contributing part of the city’s committees to collaborate with other Downtown organizations such as the Akron Art Museum and homeless shelters in order to create more programming to reach out to the population. By doing this, the library makes more connections with the businesses in the area as well as share ideas that are beneficial to both parties.

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The librarians love showcasing their creativity along with the children!

The librarians of the Akron-Summit County Public Library also want their patrons to know about events the other divisions are holding. During the first weekend in February, the Main Branch will host the Annual Family Reading Festival, in which a musician friend of the library’s will be arriving from Chicago to perform for the participants. April will be the host month of a family awareness program brought on by the Children Services Board, and May 14th will be the International Literature Festival.

The library is a place with something for everyone. We are lucky to have such a committed team of librarians working to enrich the lives of our children in the city of Akron!

 

By: Audrey Fliegel
DAP intern

 

Distinctly Downtown: Jilly’s Music Room

jillys_02If you enjoy live music with a contemporary flare, Jilly’s Music Room is one place you need to check out. Located in the Northside district of Downtown Akron, Jilly’s provides a live music venue with state of the art sound systems as well as a bar, mocktail menu and gluten free tapas menu. Recently, Jilly’s was even named number one in Akron for their 100% gluten free food and number three in live music venues.

I spoke with Jilly’s owner, Jill Bacon Madden, about what Jilly’s means to her and why she believes that live music is so important.

Jilly’s is not known for any specific genre of music, you can hear everything from blues, R&B, jazz, Americana, and that’s just to name a few. You’re bound to find something that fits your taste. You’ll also catch mostly original artists here performing all original music. The best part is there’s hardly ever a cover charge.

Most importantly, Jilly’s is not just for the 21 and over crowd. Even underage, you can come enjoy the music while accompanied by a responsible adult. Madden believes that exposure to live music is important and kids should be involved in music. They even showcase bands with children as young as nine. Madden says, “We encourage parents to bring their children in and expose them to live music; we think it’s really important.”ig jillys performer

Madden owns multiple buildings downtown but holds a special attachment to Jilly’s. She moved into the area from Northern California and has called Akron her home for the past 25 years.

When asked what she likes specifically about Downtown Akron, Madden stated “Pretty much everything, I like the progress it’s been making in the past 20 to 30 years… there’s a lot to do down here now and a lot of excitement and a lot of vibrancy, a lot of great arts and culture, a lot of great new restaurants, a ball park.”

So whether you’re looking for some live music, wanting to grab a drink with some friends, or sit down for a nice Saturday lunch, Jilly’s is a great place to bring both friends and family. Check out DAP’s website for more details or visit Jilly’s Music Room website for food and drink menus, special events and merchandise.

By: Brittany Norman
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Discovering the Zeal of Zeber-Martell

A sunny and warm autumn afternoon was the perfect day to visit the Zeber-Martell Gallery. The sun was shining through the giant windows, reflecting rays of orange, yellow, and green off of the brilliant pieces of art showcased in the gallery. We can thank our local artists for providing the city of Akron with this kind of vibrancy.  FullSizeRender (2)

Michael Martell and Claudia Zeber-Martell are the hearts and souls of this business. In 1975, the gallery was born in Spicer Town on the corner of Spicer and Exchange Streets. That was the era of boutiques, leather shops and record stores. The gallery outgrew itself and found a new home, after a few temporary spaces, in their current location in the Northside District next to Luigi’s and since, the gallery has not stopped growing.

At the time, all that was in the small area was Luigi’s, which was only open at night. The district has since then given birth to the Northside Lofts, Jilly’s Music Room, Akron Glass Works, Palladian Palette and the Akron Symphony Orchestra. This area has simply become a cultural outburst.

Before opening a retail gallery, traveling used to be a big part of Michael and Claudia’s art lifestyle. They would travel to various shows around the country, sell their pieces, and come home to make more. But recently, traveling has become much less frequent in order to focus on the downtown gallery.

FullSizeRender (4)The one show that they do keep close to their hearts is the Boston Mills Artfest each summer in order to stay close with their demographic of patrons who enjoy the artistic lifestyle.

Claudia and Michael are the torch-bearers of this business but they do bring in pieces from other artists as well. About 60% of the pieces are made by Michael and Claudia. Because of the large space, they sell pieces of 15 other artists in the gallery.

One of the most interesting aspects of the dynamics of this couple is that essentially every piece of art they sell, has been touched by both of them. They have been doing collaborative work for the past 25 years. Every piece that Michael makes, Claudia paints. “We have both had separate studios, separate bodies of work, but we always seem to come back together.”

Inspired by British studio potters, Michael taps into his aesthetic by following the strong sense of functionality he adopted from British studio potters. Claudia’s main focus is the painting of the artwork. In the past, she used acrylics to decorate the pottery but now uses glazes and stains. When breaking down the studio duties, Michael does the making and Claudia does the decorating. Even though this is the normal case, both of them can do any aspect of the creation of the pottery in order to keep the business thriving.

Michael compares the studio to the household. “You find that each have their own strengths and you divvy that up… We work better together than apart.”

FullSizeRenderTo help with the daily duties of the business, Michael and Claudia have three part-time employees to assist them through a variety of tasks. Michael and Claudia do the conceptual work and some of their employees do some assembling of jewelry, as well as casting, fabricating, cleaning, smoothing, and other preparation in order to fire the pottery pieces. This help is especially important during the holiday season when Christmas ornaments are in high demand.

One would think that he has been doing this since he was born, but Michael did not have any art training until college. He graduated from the University of Akron with a degree in ceramics and graphic design, as well as a graduate degree in Arts Administration. Pottery is his main expertise but his graphic design skills help him with the business and marketing side of things, such as making e-blasts and flyers.

In order to show support for small businesses and local artists, be sure to mark your calendar on November 28 for two reasons. This is Small Business Saturday, as well as Zeber-Martell’s Holiday Open House. Michael and Claudia would love to see anyone drop by for this special event.

Additionally, Saturday, December 5 is the monthly Artwalk.  Drop by the gallery to do more of your holiday shopping in Downtown Akron’s art district and check out some of the dining experiences around town throughout your night!

By: Audrey Fliegel
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: blue: a Goodwill Boutique

Who doesn’t like a good thrift find? Goodwill’s blue Boutique is brand new to Downtown Akron, opening just a few months ago in August, anDSC00898d is full of great finds at affordable prices. I stopped into the store to sit down and talk with Janet Morrison, Vice President of Contacts and Logistics and Dee Gillespie, Manager of blue Boutiques.

This lovely little boutique came straight from the minds of Akron students who missed having a Goodwill downtown. When the store closed in 2000, the students were given a project to bring Goodwill back. The final projects were presented to the student’s instructors and Goodwill and that’s how blue was born.

It took years oDSC00895f working with the idea to find great success before blue found the perfect location right on S. Main. But all the effort put into the project is evident as soon as you walk into the store. The urban feel makes it fit right into downtown and it’s easy to find exactly what you’re looking for.

You’re not going to be wearing what everyone else is; you’re going to find a “different look that’s not coming off the rack…very rare and very unique,” said Morrison.

Morrison also mentions that “blue is a great opportunity to reach those that don’t typically thrift,” or find larger thrift stores to be overwhelming. Gillespie, who comes from a family of Goodwill shoppers, says it helps break the stigma that only people of need shop at Goodwill.  But the smaller size doesn’t limit your options by any means. You can still stop in and find shoes, purses, cute tops, lots of denim, and there’s even clothing for men.DSC00896

While you’re busy filling your closet, don’t forget to clean it out too. Blue accepts donations and in fact, they encourage them. Goodwill had 21,000 tons donated just last year and blue works to make sure that not only is the boutique filled with great finds and fashion, but the retail stores as well. Gillespie says they’re all “one big happy family.”

Thrifting isn’t only great for your wallet, but it’s a great way to help others. Goodwill’s mission is to help people find and retain employment. Morrison wants people to know that every dollar that is spent at Goodwill is helping their mission. Goodwill wants to help others and they want to provide a place for everyone to shop, regardless of income. Goodwill is also part of the recycling movement, and that’s why Morrison and Gillespie believe that blue has been so successful. Morrison says millennials today have connected with the sustainability movement and want to reduce waste. So when you shop at blue you’re truly supporting so many good causes. And it’s also a great place to stop in and volunteer.

Morrison and Gillespie’s goal with blue is to strengthen the community and bring retail to downtown to help create employment and give back. If you’re looking for unique finds and great prices stop into blue boutique at either location (Akron or Kent), and for more information check out their website.

By: Brittany Norman
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: The Lockview

The Lockview – The Past, Present and Future

All throughout my college years thus far, one of my favorite weekend hangouts has always been The Lockview. There’s something about the relaxed and somewhat indie atmosphere that has always made for an enjoyable time and fits in seamlessly with the creative Downtown Akron vibe. I had the pleasure of sitting down with the owner, Danny Basone this week. We spoke of the past, present, and future of this Main Street treasure.

If we begin with the past, we would be referring not to The Lockview, but to a concert venue called Lime Spider. Before The Lockview was born, Basone opened this place in 2001 that has the bragging rights of being the venue of one of The Black Keys‘ first shows. A musician himself, Basone brought in any musical artist who wanted to play a show and also helped with the sound engineering. Unfortunately, the music scene in Akron just wasn’t giving enough business to the venue and Basone made the tough decision to close Lime Spider in 2008 and was forced to put use to his creative mind to rescue his place.

“As a business owner, you don’t want to walk away from a space. I’m going to make this work,” he told me. And he sure did. So he repainted, redesigned, and re-birthed this space that was to become The Lockview.

When brainstorming new ideas for the space, Basone thought of one of his friends who participated in grilled cheese competitions. This friend helped him build the grilled cheese menu that Basone’s customers enjoy today. He wanted a menu that was simple and kept people coming back.

As another rock to building this business, Basone’s family has always been a core support. His brothers and sister have helped him tremendously along the way, from being the restaurant’s food buyer to being day managers.

View of the Lockview from Main Street

When asked about thoughts of expanding outside of Akron, it’s definitely a thought but nothing is in the progress at the moment. He has considered the Cleveland area, but it remains an idea that will come to fruition when the time is right. Presently, Basone has his hands full with his latest project, taking place in the neighboring space to the right of The Lockview.

This new project is called El Gato Tacqueria. Formerly Hattie’s Cafe, this is something that will be very unique to Downtown Akron in the sense of it being a street taco type of place. El Gato will be a small restaurant, seating about 35 people and will offer quick service. It will have an eight item menu serving tacos, burritos, and salads, with vegetarian options as well. As far as drinks, it will serve beer and soda. El Gato is expected to open sometime this fall, with no concrete date set.

As a supporter of the arts, Basone will also bring in works from local artists to display in El Gato as he already does in the Lockview. Basone has always been a supporter of the arts and is proud to continue to give a place where artists can show their work. Recently, Akron has become a city that has allowed artists to express themselves more frequently, thanks to local business owners like Basone, and the rise of public art spaces such as the Summit Artspace and Ro3.

After hearing all that he had to say, I can tell that Basone is a practical and laid back sort of person that Akron should be proud to have raised. He says, “I’m also giving to the community in the sense that I am hiring people… There’s something cool about that.” Danny has definitely done his part to contribute to the city of Akron through his creative mind and optimistic spirit, and I for one cannot wait to see what new projects he will have in store for the future.

By: Audrey Fliegel, Downtown Akron Partnership Intern

Distinctly Downtown: She’s A Smart Cookie

Shana Stiel, creator, owner, and sole-employee of She’s A Smart Cookie, a gluten-free and vegan treats business, brings healthy and tasty snacks to Northeast Ohio and Akron’s The Market at Lock 3.

Stiel’s certified home bakery is located in North Canton. She provides services primarily at farmers markets and to businesses and bakery shops in Cleveland, Akron, Kent, and other surrounding Ohio areas.

Stiel delivers special orders to cafes where her products are then featured. She’s A Smart Cookie is sold at several shops in Akron such as Highland Square’s Angel Falls Coffee and The Coffee Pot Cafe downtown.photo(12)

Stiel is very active in the downtown Akron dining life through her involvement at The Market at Lock 3 and her locations in Akron stores and bakeries.

Stiel makes various baked goods, health snacks, and energy bars; providing a wide range of gluten-free and vegan options that taste good and provide essential nutrients. Her specialties are cookies, granola, almond butter, and energy balls.

These products are not only completely vegan, but they are also packed with natural ingredients- with no fillers or artificial flavors. Her treats are both healthy and delicious.

“I want to make a cookie taste like a cookie—not like it’s trying to be a cookie,” Stiel said.

Stiel began her business after personally suffering from food allergies. For the past 4 years, Stiel struggled with countless health problems. She was lethargic, constantly tired, and had severe migraines and body pains. After seeing numerous doctors, none of whom could diagnose her, Stiel sought a solution through her diet.

Similarly, Stiel’s sister suffered from allergies to wheat and dairy, which encouraged Stiel to get testing done for food allergies. After getting the results back from her tests, Stiel learned that she was allergic to wheat, dairy, and gluten. This knowledge motivated Stiel to change her diet drastically. She already maintained a vegetarian diet and exercised regularly, but this inspired her to look for more ways to improve her lifestyle.

“No food tasted good enough for me to feel so bad,” Stiel reminisced about the first few weeks upon discovering her food allergies.

Over time Stiel adapted to a gluten-free and vegan lifestyle. She felt the results of her diet change immediately; quickly recognizing the improvement in her body and health.

Still, Stiel struggled while grocery shopping for foods. She found that most products in stores were loaded with gluten and artificial fillers. She always loved baking, so she took matters into her own hands and began testing ingredients to create more options that her sister (the sister with a sweet tooth) and she could enjoy.

As Stiel saw the changes and improvement in her life and diet, she wanted to share this with others, knowing that she couldn’t be alone in this issue with her allergies. Stiel hoped that if the awareness of gluten-free snacks that tasted good reached the public, more people might make the switch to wheat and dairy-free products.

Stiel is passionate about helping others with health problems, and she encourages those who struggle with aches and lethargy to get tested for allergies to food. Yet, Stiel also seeks out people without food allergies to still take a look at their diets and find room for improvement. Stiel said that if vegan products taste as good as regular products, people’s bodies might feel and look better eating the first choice.

Stiel’s advice to anyone hesitant to change their usual eating habits is that “you can eat smart, and it can taste great.”

While grocery stores primarily offer popular manufacturers’ brands, despite their unhealthiness, Stiel’s goal is to popularize not only She’s A Smart Cookie products, but gluten-free and vegan options in general.

“I think it’s getting to that point where people want to be healthy now,” said Stiel. Taking the initiative to put her product in numerous shops and bakeries, Stiel hopes people become familiarized with her vegan treats and make the transition over to a healthier diet.

Stiel’s business is continually growing; roughly every week, she starts selling to at least one more bakery in Ohio. Her goals are to one day see She’s A Smart Cookie as a trusted and recognized brand in bakeries and grocery stores everywhere.

By: Spencer Skolnick, Downtown Akron Partnership Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Cascade Plaza

Cascade Plaza, a new addition to Downtown Akron’s vibrant atmosphere, attracts employees and residents of the area for games, music and relaxation.

The Cascade Plaza

The Cascade Plaza

Developed recently this summer, Cascade Plaza, located along South Main Street, is a public spot many people frequent during their lunch hour, for the lively and beautiful environment it provides. The tables and open field give people an outdoor lunching area and a great escape from the office.

Downtown Akron Partnership (DAP) hosts Summer on the Plaza, a program that brings events, musicians, and games to the new downtown hotspot, attracting more people to the area.

As the summer intern with DAP, I get to experience Summer on the Plaza firsthand. Participating in “Throwback Thursday” each week, a day that brings old recess games back to people in downtown Akron and onto the plaza’s field, I’m able to watch partakers roll up the sleeves of their office suits and get down and dirty in competitive games of corn hole.

Playing a game of corn hole with the DAP staff

Playing a game of corn hole with the DAP staff

While every Thursday at 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. reminds participants of their past with games like bocce, ladder ball, and badminton, other days of the week attract people to the plaza as well.

Tuesdays during lunch break hours, free concerts take over the Cascade Plaza. Artists such as Ohio’s own Michael McFarland perform free shows at the plaza. For the remainder of the summer from 12:15 p.m. to 1:15 p.m., Akron employees, residents and students are encouraged to enjoy their lunches on the plaza, entertained  by some rock ‘n’ roll.

Wednesdays welcome Namaste and downward dog with Yoga on the Plaza on evenings at 5:30 p.m. Akron Yoga & Wellness introduces free yoga classes, the perfect way to relax before heading home from work.

I highly suggest to anyone able to utilize the resources of these free events to take advantage of this summer fun. And for anyone unable to attend the Summer on the Plaza events, I still recommend enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful surroundings of the Cascade Plaza during your down time.

Summer on the Plaza occurs from now until September 3. Stop by to soak up the sun and free entertainment before the summer ends.

By Spencer Skolnick, Downtown Akron Partnership Intern

Distinctly Downtown: Tammy O’s Hair Salon

Tammy O’s Hair Salon exceeds typical salon and barber shop expectations and provides a sense of community to its customers, contributing to Downtown Akron life.

The Shoppestammy-o-for-constant-contact at Akron Centre offer a wide range of shopping and dining options. This shopping center adds to the lively, entertaining atmosphere of Downtown Akron. Well-known establishments such as Angel Falls Coffee, as well as original specialty shops like NOTO, are centered in this building, drawing in local workers and shoppers in the Akron area.

A place of its own—famous for its friendly employees and wide variety of offered salon and spa services, Tammy O’s, owned and operated by Tammy O’Strander, attracts men and women of all ages and ethnicities to the salon. The salon specializes in nails, massages, hair coloring and styling, as well as cuts and waxes, and cosmetology.

O’Strander is working in her fifteenth year at the franchise in the Shoppes at Akron Centre. She is a licensed barber, who started a career at this salon as an employee in her youth. She then took over the shop when the previous owner left and has run the salon ever since his departure. Although O’Strander began as a men’s barber, she expanded the salon to offer far more services, for both men and women.

O’Strander started in the business at a young age. She enjoyed cutting hair and considered it her hobby. She made the initiative to turn it into a career after working at a salon in Beachwood, Ohio, where her co-workers and employers taught her more than she imagined she could learn. O’Strander states that was when she fell in love with her hobby, and it developed into her career.

O’Strander took these life-changing lessons and applied them when she started running Tammy O’s Salon.

As the owner, O’Strander refuses to operate a cookie-cutter hair salon and spa; she wants both her employees and customers to get the most out of her knowledge and services. She aspires to motivate and teach so that her employees receive that same experience she gained at her first hair salon job. O’Strander says she focuses strongly on growth.

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Tammy O’s stylists and spa specialists.

Working alongside O’Strander at Tammy O’s is Vicki Martin, the massage therapist and shoe shiner. She began working there in 2003. She specializes in therapeutic and deep tissue massaging. Also, Cindi Rains is the nail technician, an employee of over ten years.

Recently, Robin Jones, a friend of O’Strander’s since 1995, joined the team, focusing on cosmetology at the salon. Jones was a licensed barber in Maryland, specializing in hair replacement, where she previously worked. Joining O’Strander’s salon, Jones brings a background of culture and diversity in regards to hair styling, as her passion and talent centers around styling and re-growing hair of people with mixed ethnicities. As a woman of mixed backgrounds herself, Jones sees “this business [as] artistry.” She plans to incorporate more diversity in the salon’s services, hoping to attract more female customers and customers with diverse backgrounds.

Dedicated workers at Tammy O's gather at the spa.

Dedicated workers at Tammy O’s gather at the spa.

For O’Strander and her co-workers, a significant part of their success is due to their location. They are a part of downtown city life; the Shoppes at Akron Centre is located in the heart of the city. She describes it as “a perfect place to be.” The city life draws in a lot of excitement and entertainment, and O’Strander mentions that she sees her salon as a part of it all. “I see [customers] on a daily basis because they work in this building or they [frequently visit],” she says, “They’re more like friends than clients.”

Employees in the downtown area, along with shoppers and browsers, see Tammy O’s and are intrigued by its welcoming appearance and many spa services. O’Strander says that her business is always growing because the people who have used her services before continuously return, while regularly new customers visit. This salon is a great place for students at the University of Akron and workers downtown because of the convenience of location and short amount of time it takes to get there.

What used to be a barber shop transformed into a full-package “head-to-toe” service salon and spa. O’Strander puts her passion and skills into her business, offering expert hair and other services, as well as a friendly, inviting environment where the workers know each customer by name. In 2010 and 2011, Tammy O’s was named the Akron Beacon Journal’s Best Barber and in both those years and in 2012, named Beacon’s Best Spa and Salon. Tammy O’s is a great place to get pampered or a haircut—they provide care and talent that is hard to find elsewhere.

For more information about Tammy O’s Hair Salon, visit their web page on our site, give them a call at 330-253-2300, or stop in at 50 S Main St, Suite 111. When visiting the salon, remember that Tammy O’s has a Do Downtown card member promotion of 10% off any service.

By Spencer Skolnick, Downtown Akron Partnership Intern