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.


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

Distinctly Downtown: Natalie’s

Natalies logoIf you are familiar with The Dessert Bar, then you know Natalie’s will be an experience you won’t forget. The location of the pleasant eatery might have changed, but the delicious recipes have expanded and they offer new menu items including breakfast, lunch and dinner items. Now located in the Shoppes at Akron Centre, Natalie’s is open and ready to connect and share their new vision with Downtown Akron. Whether you are in the mood for an appetizing chicken salad or a sweet signature Hollywood square, Natalie’s will meet your needs.

Natalie, who co owns the restaurant along with her husband, started cooking in her younger years. She attended a culinary arts trade program during high school which fueled the fire in her heart for cooking and baking. Although Natalie loved the restaurant business and working in the environment, being young and in school made that difficult. She then entered the corporate world and worked there for about 15 years. With the passion for the kitchen still residing inside of her, five years into her corporate America career, she started baking cakes. Baking cakes and catering soon became the focus of her drive. Natalie left corporate America and decided to open a business to what many would remember as The Dessert Bar.
natalies collage
Natalie switched locations from the Montrose area to right here in the heart of Downtown Akron. She has expressed her love for the city and for the history and security of the Chase building. After asking Natalie what she looked forward to the most, she replied “the increased traffic flow”. Now that she is more out in the open and not as hidden as before in her previous location, she anticipates serving existing formal customers and meeting new patrons to make them customers for life. While working in a friendly family environment, she hopes that new and existing patrons notice the name and menu change. The name change from The Dessert Bar to Natalie’s was designed to give insight to the larger spectrum of food Natalie and her restaurant could offer other than just desserts. Natalie’s offers breakfast, on request only, home-style dishes, standard deli options, specialty items and grill items. All menu items are made with homemade recipes, and are accompanied by homemade sides. Catering is also available upon request. Natalie’s catering events range from corporate lunches, and weddings, to anniversaries and school reunions. Natalie enjoys being in Akron and serving her community. Along with anticipating meeting new customers, a smooth transition from the familiar Dessert Bar to the current Natalie’s, is the main goal for this restaurant owner.

To experience the warm and friendly environment that Natalie strives to offer her customers, visit her new location in Downtown Akron 50 S, Main St., Suite 122. To inquire about her catering or to make a delivery request contact Natalie’s at (234) 334-4166. From about 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. Natalie’s receives a rush of patrons for lunch, so when visit, plan accordingly.

To find out more information about the menu, catering information or to see examples of Natalie’s exceptional cakes and desserts, visit her website at www.nataliesakron.com or visit their Facebook page at www.facebook/TheDessertBarAkron.

By: Chantel Burt
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Urban Eats

058Urban Eats is a pop-art cafe owned by Elizabeth Tyran and Jason Scala, two creative geniuses, who turned their former order counter into a visual, compelling & fun place to eat! Jason and Liz both have a passion for food as well as art. Whether it’s local art, or a masterpiece from home, they acknowledge the beauty in each piece and showcase them in the restaurant. Liz is an UA alumnae while Jason has mastered the art of culinary. When you put their two minds together and you witness the talent this power couple posses, the outcomes are unlimited. They both strive to provide healthy and hearty meals to the people they appreciate most, the people in their community.

Urban Eats is the center of a live, 053 work and play environment. The owners of this cafe appreciate all the walks of life they encounter and the relationships they build while residing in the this community. Since their work and personal home live here; they especially know the importance of community and supporting one another. Liz says, although the occupants of the neighborhood may change over time, the community and the city constantly grows. Outside of their cafe, they support local artist in attending art shows and hosting a children’s “artwalk”.

Along with the fascinating and eye catching wall art, their food is definitely something worth discussing. Referring to the menu, Liz says “they have something for everyone”. What’s so unique and diverse about Urban Eats is the fact that they change their menu each month. Sometimes it’s a new and captivating item or it could be a familiar favorite that you love and crave. In order to balance the variety of meals they offer they have to work together. Liz considered herself the “dreamer’ and referred to Jason as the “doer”. She thinks and creates these thoughtful and balanced recipes while Jason creates magic in the kitchen to bring her ideas to life. They listen and accommodate to their customers to make sure every trip is special.

Creative, exceptional and inspiring are just a few words to describe their establishment. working alongside Musica, which is now open during the week, Urban Eats tries to integrate and encourage originality and creativity. With help051 from their small but mighty staff, Max, who is also multi-talented and artsy, they are able to achieve the motto of live, work and play. Whether you are vising for lunch during the rush, or stopping in after an event at Musica, Urban Eats is a place where art meets food and community is welcomed. You will quickly be inspired by Liz and Jason’s refreshing personalities, their fine food and the original atmosphere, they cherish. Urban Eats is located on East Market and they are open 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. Monday thru Friday and during any Musica events. You can always call ahead to order and delivery within downtown is available with a $25 minimum. Catering is also available for businesses and organizations upon request. Visit their website at www.urbaneatsmusica.com.

By: Chantel Burt
DAP intern

Distinctly Downtown: Crafty Mart

Crafty Mart logoCrafty Mart was first established in 2009 as a haven of uncommon, quality-made, local arts and crafts. In 2013, Crafty Mart won a “Best of the City” award from Akron Life Magazine.  Growing by leaps and bounds to fit the needs of the crafting community, Crafty Mart is now a non-profit organization.

In 2015 Crafty Mart joined the Downtown Akron Artwalk as a pop up space on the third floor of Summit Artspace.  Beginning in February with Valentine’s Day-themed items, Crafty Mart became a regular stop on the monthly Artwalk route.

Crafty Mart filled three Downtown Akron venues in November 2014 including Musica Performing Arts

Crafty Mart filled three Downtown Akron venues in November 2014, including Musica Performing Arts

On Saturday, March 7 from 5-9 p.m, Crafty Mart hosts the Nerdy Pop Up Market with vendors featuring items that celebrate geekiness, nerdiness and pop culture obsessions.  The Nerdy Pop Up Market theme has been chosen to honor Pi Day which takes place the following week.  Pi Day is a celebratory time by nerds of all stripes who cleverly recognize that the day March 14, 2015, can also be seen as 3.1415–the first five significant digits of the mathematical constant (pi.)

“The Nerdy Pop Up Market is a fun way for Crafty Mart to contribute its culture of local artisans and crafters to the monthly Akron Artwalk,” said Brit Charek, Crafty Mart Director.  “Artwalk guests get to experience the creativity and inspiration of these arty entrepreneurs. I’m also excited to introduce a passionate group of our vendors to give Akron residents a fresh new Artwalk experience.”

Crafty Mart will host between 20 and 30 vendors on the third floor of Summit Artspace during the Artwalk.  Crafty Mart’s addition to the tradition of the Artwalk not only opens a wider audience to its vendors but gives Akron’s residents more opportunities to discover local artists, crafters and their handmade items.

The Downtown Akron Artwalk takes place on the first Saturday of each month and features multiple destinations for art, shopping, dining, and entertainment.  Each month is a unique experience and a wonderful opportunity to meet artists that make downtown a culturally and artistically vibrant community.

The Akron Artwalk is a FREE event and entry into Summit Artspace is FREE.

For more information on Crafty Mart’s past and present, visit www.craftymart.org.

Follow Crafty Mart on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the most recent updates on this event.

Content courtesy of: Crafty Mart

Distinctly Downtown: Akron CitiCenter Florist

 Valentine’s Day is approaching and that means love is in the air. Love is not the only comforting scent in the air; flowers are a perfect way to express your love for someone on that special day. Giving flowers as a gift can be filled with love, appreciation and thoughtfulness. If you are in the Downtown Akron area and heading down Main Street and turn on the corner on Mill Street, you’ll see a very distinct and lovely display. Red, white and pink illuminate the front window of Paul Stitt’s Akron CitiCenter Florist. Stitt’s shop offers an array of beautiful bouquets and arrangements ranging from roses, to lilies to chrysanthemums.DSC00853

Before Stitt became a florist, he lived in San Diego, California, where he was a young boy just simply delivering flowers. After gaining knowledge in the florist business, he used that knowledge to move up and make a career out of his experience. Stitt opened his shop in Downtown Akron in September of 1989. His first location was the CitiCenter building during the 90’s, but once the city took over the building he relocated. Stitt is fully staffed during the holidays and supplies floral decorations and arrangements for occasions such as weddings, funerals, hospital stays and birthdays. If you are having a small gathering for any occasion and looking for an affordable florist, this is the perfect place. I asked Stitt what he liked most about being downtown, he says “I like the corporate business.” “I like dealing with business people…It’s different.” He enjoys assisting and servicing, but not limited to, small businesses and their employees.

Along with having a friendly environment for staff and customers, Akron CitiCenter Florist strives to accommodate the different emotions and situations their customers may experience. “I think what the customer sees, is romance,” says Stitt on the subject of flowers. Aside from other emotions, creating that feeling of romance is the main goal for Stitt and his employees for this upcoming holiday.

Despite roses being his personal favorite flower, Stitt admits that the mixed bouquet is the most popular arrangement with a standard price of $6.98. Many might stray from flowers for their loved ones who may believe flowers are not affordable.DSC00858 Unlike some florists, who may significantly raise their prices for special holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Stitt values his customers and his community and does not raise his prices as high as some other companies might raise them. To show appreciation and support for the community he lives in. I asked Stitt what his best advice for people wanting to order for Valentine’s Day was and he said, “Order early!” The earlier he knows what you want, the better chance of it being available.  No matter how difficult the order might be he also says, “We try to deliver that upon their request.”

As of last week Akron CitiCenter Florist is also participating in DAP’s Kiss My Akron promotional campaign. During the month of February, different businesses downtown handout ‘kiss’ window clings to their customers, who then go out and stick them in the window of their favorite establishments. This is a way to display the love of Downtown Akron businesses. Akron CitiCenter Florist also participates in Do Downtown. DSC00851Akron CitiCenter Florist offers a 20% cash and carry on cut flowers if you visit and sign up on the Do Downtown page. Next time you are on Mill Street, stop by Akron CitiCenter Florist to tag a sticker in the window or buy a bouquet for that someone special. Valentine’s Day is approaching fast, so remember when ordering flowers to order with Akron CitiCenter Florist and don’t procrastinate!

Akron CitiCenter Florist is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. & Saturday 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. & CLOSED on Sundays. So, order online today at their website OR call ahead at (330) 253-3700.

By: Chantel Burt, Downtown Akron Partnership Intern