AKRON, OHIO — Akron is nearly one year into the Main Street Corridor project and another year remains before it is finished. However, local businesses are raising concern, saying they’re being negatively impacted by the construction.
The Main Street Corridor project will give the area a much needed upgrade in infrastructure and a face lift along the street on which Lock 3, The Civic Theater, Canal Park, restaurants and shops, including the iconic Peanut Shoppe which has been an Akron fixture for generations, are located.
The Peanut Shoppe has been roasting peanuts and selling candies since they opened in 1932.
More than 80 years later the peanuts are still roasted on site using the same roaster.
“The generation before me, they all taught their families to come to the Peanut Shoppe. And, their grandchildren, they just have really good memories of coming down with their parents and grandparents over the years,” said Marge Klein.
But Klein explained that the Main Street Corridor project has people avoiding the area and that has had a noticeable impact on their business.
“We are not seeing the traffic or the foot traffic or the cars that usually stop in and people run in. They just won’t deal with it, you know and some days are better than others. We are thankful for those good days. It’s just the way it is. One day is bad, maybe the next two days will be good but we are not seeing a lot of our regular customers,” said Klein.
The store took to social media on Friday to thank its loyal customers for dodging the orange cones and reminding readers that businesses on Main Street in Akron are still open.
Heather Bolestridge, the Communications Manager for the Main Street Corridor Project, said she spent part of Thursday and Friday trying to calm fears generated from a viral social media post that predicted the demise of the Peanut Shoppe because of the lack of business.
“I was just responding to that post and saying ‘Hey, come down and put your money where your advocacy is.’ you know?” said Bolestridge. “The goal is to get people down here so that these businesses can continue to thrive and we have to do this [construction] work.”
The city is offering free parking everywhere possible, trying to make it as easy as possible for people to get to the Main Street businesses and restaurants.
“I have people call and we always tell them that you just have to come down and be patient and navigate and learn. Just watch the arrows and you will eventually get down here to us. Northbound traffic is open, but you have to be patient and you may have to go around the block maybe five minutes out of your way, but you will eventually be able to get down here on Main Street,” said Klein.
People on Friday were responding to the social media appeals, coming to the store to buy some treats and share childhood memories.
“I remember them from when I was a kid, they were right across the street. The smell was wonderful. We were allowed to go in there when we were kids and pick out one that we wanted and one that my mother wanted,” said Eva Nicodemus. “I would hate to see it go and so I want to patronize something that means a lot to me.”
The Peanut Shoppe and other businesses along Main Street are hoping their loyal patrons will help them weather the storm
“Eventually this will be gone, but it has to be done,” said Klein, urging those who have always treasured the iconic shop to “Please come down and support us again and keep us going another 80 years.”