Distinctly Downtown: The Peanut Shoppe

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Akron is home to many small businesses, but not many have been around as long as the Peanut Shoppe. It originally started in the 1930s as a retail shop for the Planter’s Peanuts Company. Sold to private owners in the 1950s, and then again the 80s, the Peanut Shoppe has been witness to a changing Akron for over 80 years.

The current owner, Marge Klein, attributes the shop’s longevity to the fact that, “Generation after generation of people have been coming here. So they enjoy coming in here and buying the nuts their grandpa or dad bought for them.”

The long history of the shop is evident from the moment you walk in. Photographs of Peanut Shoppe patrons are placed on nearly any space available on the walls. They bring to life the story of the shop over the years. Klein said that any customer is welcome to bring in any old photos; the only problem, they are running out of room.

The shop may have changed owners, and even buildings with a move across the street about 10 years ago, but things are still done largely the same at the Peanut Shoppe. The peanuts are still roasted in the old Planter’s roasters each morning and even the original scales are used to weigh out each customer’s order.

While the shop has retained the original look and feel, the products they offered have changed with the times. Originally the Planter’s Peanut shop only offered peanuts for sale, but the current incarnation of the shop offers a wide variety of nuts, chocolates, candies, and even ice cream starting in May. Klein says that some of her biggest sellers are honey roasted, cashews, and salted peanuts. While the candies and chocolates aren’t made in the shop there is a wide variety of treats from the traditional, like caramels and dark chocolate, to the adventurous, such as the chocolate covered espresso beans and dried bananas.

Klein says her shop relies heavily on the foot traffic in Downtown, something that’s not as easy as it used to be to come by in Downtown. That along with a 30 percent rise in the cost of peanuts last year has presented some challenges for the shop. Even with the downturn in traffic the shop still has a steady stream of customers, a testament to its popularity with locals.

Another draw of the Peanut Shoppe is the ability to buy small or big. Klein says she recognizes that people, especially some students, don’t have a lot of expendable income for treats. Klein says this is why they offer sales of just 1/8 lb for just 65 cents.

The historic atmosphere and fair prices make the Peanut Shoppe a truly unique business. This coupled with the fact that the Peanut Shoppe is only one of the three peanut stores left in Ohio make it one of Downtown’s must visit places.

By: Michael Crossland
DAP intern

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