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Barberton combines celebration Christmas Walk with support of small business

By Courtney Kerrigan correspondent

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The Lake Anna Gazebo is decorated with holiday lights during last year's Christmas Walk. The event will take place at 6 p.m. on Saturday. Many local businesses will feature special deals before the event. (Photo courtesy of Diane Breiding)

Between mobs of shoppers on Black Friday and online bargaining on Cyber Monday, downtown Barberton is gearing up for the city’s annual Christmas Walk Celebration and Small Business Saturday.

Although the local-friendly shopping day was created on a nationally after Barberton’s Christmas Walk, Joe Fazek, director of the Barberton-South Summit Chamber of Commerce, said the chamber encourages small businesses to take advantage of the timing and offer specials Saturday evening. He believes small businesses give communities their identities.

“Where would Barberton be without local small businesses?” Fazek said. “Restaurants, barber shops, florists — those are the businesses we want people to utilize and appreciate, and I think every city in America has to feel that way.”

The festival kicks off at 6 p.m. in Lake Anna Park with the Magic City Kiwanis Tree Lighting Ceremony at the Gazebo and the Lighting of Lake Anna. There will also be choirs singing throughout downtown, plus horse and wagon rides, ice sculpting and pictures with Rudolph. The Lake Anna light display will be on in the evenings until Jan. 1.

R-D Bike Shop will have prior-year bikes and clothing on sale Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., said Ruth Kaser, co-owner of the shop. She said she’s always trying to promote small business.

“I feel there’s more involvement in community affairs than the big box and large stores,” Kaser said, who’s been in business for more than 30 years.

The shop is closing before the festival, but Kaser said they will participate in caroling around downtown.

Although many businesses like R-D Bike Shop plan to close their doors before the festivities, the Green Diamond Grille & Pub is one small business that is luring families in for the evening.

John Kriston, owner of the restaurant for eight years, said the heartbeat of a small community is its businesses.  To celebrate Small Business Saturday and the Christmas Walk, he’ll be offering a prime rib special and a few cocktail specials, though he isn’t sure what they’ll be yet.

“It’s the small business people that employ 10 to 50 people — that’s a lot of families supported,” Kriston said. “Small businesses tend to give back to the community, and I think people are recognizing that more and more today.”

Fazek said the chamber will also partake in a new tradition during the weekend called a cash mob. They pick a specific small business in the area, wrangle everyone in the chamber plus people in the community and show up to spend between $15 and $20 at that business. They started the mob about three months ago and visit one to two local places a weekend.

“We feel a little more hominess coming to downtown,” he said. “We want to see new dedication. Barberton has a tremendous ethnic background and history that has been taken away by the years. But you can see it returning with what we’re doing.”

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