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Small Business Saturday Draws Crowds to Akron Neighborhood

photo of Renard Turner, Mary Ellen Turner
Renard and Mary Ellen Turner from Cleveland found bicycle socks -- with humorously ribald messages on them -- during their first visit to the Northside Marketplace, on Small Business Saturday.

Two events in Akron over the weekend helped kick off the holiday shopping season by focusing on small businesses.

Small Business Saturday is a national event encouraging people to check out shops in their communities. In Akron, the day started with Northside Marketplace hosting Crafty Mart -- featuring local artisans with handmade goods – on one floor.

On another floor were vendors like Cristina Gonzalez Alcala, founder of Not Yo’ Daddy’s hot sauce, which has a permanent space at Northside. She says she noticed Black Friday traffic was down at the big box stores she visited this year, while Small Business Saturday continues to grow.

“We really see the community rallying behind small businesses and they see the value of buying local [and] supporting local. Because it grows the local economy.”

Not far from the Northside, The Devil Strip magazine held a “Meet Your Neighbors” walk along East Cuyahoga Falls Avenue in North Hill to spotlight the diverse array of local businesses that sell everything from African cuisine to Nepali clothing.

The walk route included businesses selling goods from Nepal, Africa and several other countries, many of them immigrant-owned.

Joel Felder from Highland Square says the area has changed from when he was younger, when it was mostly Italian immigrants.

“And now it’s Nepali and Mexican and other ethnic groups. It’s been fun and enlightening. I’d come back. I drive by here all the time, I just don’t stop too often; I’m on my way somewhere else. Now I have a reason to stop and I feel comfortable just stopping and seeing what’s here.”

The “Meet Your Neighbors” events aim to bring people from Greater Akron to explore a new part of the city.

Kabir Bhatia is a senior reporter for Ideastream Public Media's arts & culture team.