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Akron-area landmarks offer offbeat gifts

By Katie Byard
Beacon Journal business writer

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Liz Clough of Akron browses for gift ideas at the Civic Theatre's gift store Stage Left. (Mike Cardew/Akron Beacon Journal)
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The Akron Civic Theatre’s Mighty Wurlitzer organ as a jigsaw puzzle. The iconic Goodyear blimp as a chocolate bar. “Secret recipe” gingerbread cookies — made famous at Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.

All are in stock at stores connected to area landmarks. Today, the Beacon Journal’s “It’s A Wrap” spotlights a few of these shops with distinctly local ties.

The Mighty Wurlitzer puzzle — and a host of other Civic-centric gifts — are available at Stage Left, the gift store adjacent to the Civic Theatre on South Main Street in the city’s downtown.

The enterprise began years ago with Civic Women’s Guild volunteers selling gifts from a table in the lobby of the historic theater.

Stage Left has “grown like topsy-turvy,” said guild member Mary Anne Rothermel, noting the wide variety of items, including Civic logo mugs, mouse pads and shot glasses. Wizard of Oz collectibles are a popular item, as is costume jewelry, some of it made in the USA.

It remains an all-volunteer operation of the Women’s Guild, which also raises money for the theater through other endeavors.

As an all-volunteer effort, Stage Left’s hours are limited. It’s open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. It also opens an hour before Akron Civic events, remaining open through intermissions.

At Stan Hywet, this holiday season marks the debut of the ready-to-bake version of the estate’s popular gingerbread cookies. Find the cookie dough at Molly’s Cafe, part of the Stan Hywet complex at 714 N. Portage Path in West Akron.

The freshly baked cookies long have been a popular staple of Stan Hywet’s fall Ohio Mart.

Those wanting to bake the cookies at home used to have to buy the dough in loaves.

“This is so much better,” said Kristi Woodill, who oversees Molly’s Cafe and Gift Shop. At the gift shop, shoppers can find a new ornament featuring a painted scene of the Stan Hywet manor house and a new book, A Look Behind the Scenes at Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens. This softcover volume focuses on the designing and building of the estate that was developed by F.A. Seiberling, founder of Akron’s Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co.

No admission to the estate is necessary if you are only shopping.

Head across town to the Goodyear Gift Center in Goodyear Hall, across from Goodyear headquarters, to find the chocolate airships and other blimp-themed, as well as Goodyear logo, items. There’s everything from caps to T-shirts to the ever-popular blimp erasers and toy inflatable blimps.

Security measures at Goodyear Hall on East Market Street mean a shopper first must check in at the front desk and show a driver’s license.

That will change next spring when the company moves into its new headquarters, next to its nearby tech center, on Innovation Way. The new headquarters will feature a gift shop, with public access, in the main lobby, said Scott Baughman, a company spokesman.

Items also are offered at http://blimpshop.goodyear.com.

A best-seller this time of year at the Akron Art Museum store is the print of Raphael Gleitsmann’s Winter Evening, a painting in the museum’s permanent collection. The image depicts a snowy slice of downtown Akron in the 1930s.

The store also features a square snow globe, with a small print of the image; the globes first were available last year.

Also available are colorful American-made socks and jewelry crafted by local and regional artists. Also in stock are toys for children “that you’re not necessarily going to come upon at Toys R Us,” store manager Laura Firestone noted.

No gallery admission is necessary to shop. The museum is at 1 South High St., downtown.

Also downtown is the Akron-Summit County Public Library, which includes the Library Shop on Main.

The store, which fronts on Main Street, is operated by the Friends of the Library. It stocks used books — many priced at $1 or less — as well as new items, including mugs, quirky tote bags, cards and children’s items.

It’s a jungle inside the Akron Zoo gift shop, inside the Barnhardt Family Welcome Center, where shoppers can find a menagerie of animal-themed merchandise.

The zoo continues its Care for a Critter animal sponsorship program. Prices start at $25.

For more information, visit the zoo’s website at www.akronzoo.org.

Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or kbyard@thebeaconjournal.com.



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