Updated: Mar 31, 2021
BY JENNIFER CONN OHIO
PUBLISHED 1:49 PM ET MAR. 26, 2021
AKRON, Ohio – While much of the business world remained closed over the past year, Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance has been filing storefronts on Kenmore Boulevard, with the business district welcoming its sixth new business since the pandemic started.
Marigold Sol will open at 962 Kenmore Boulevard on April 1 at 1:30 p.m., followed by a public grand opening from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. The store will offer new and vintage furniture, home décor, gifts and jewelry, as well as classes in custom furniture refinishing.
Marigold Sol is owned by former nurse Lori Julien who said she has decades of experiencing in furniture refinishing and resale. She chose Kenmore Boulevard as the place to turn her part-time passion into full-time work, she said
“I have a deep respect and appreciation for communities that are investing in neighborhood revitalization and what they're doing here on Kenmore Boulevard is really inspiring,” Julien said in a release.
Over the past few months, several small businesses have joined Kenmore’s popular music and hobby businesses on the Boulevard.
“I really believe that when people were sent back to their neighborhoods they tended to do more in their neighborhoods, and when you're able to offer amenities and services that residents need within their neighborhood, they're more likely to support a local business,”
Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance (KNA) Executive Director Tina Boyes said.
KNA is a nonprofit organization working to drive economic development in the neighborhood. The Boulevard is one of Akron’s Great Streets Districts, a program overseen by the city's Office of Integrated Development designed to help bring business and vibrancy back to 10 Akron neighborhoods with small-business districts.
Great Streets offers business owners low-interest loans and facade-improvement grants, working with organizations like KNA to enhance business districts' infrastructure, from new lighting to street improvements.
“Great Streets districts like Kenmore Boulevard serve as hubs of business and social activity in our community,” said Mayor Dan Horrigan in a release. “Marigold Sol will undoubtedly be a wonderful addition to this district and add to the vibrancy and community pride of the Kenmore Boulevard area.”
Improvements on the Boulevard’s physical storefronts and other projects has resumed after the pandemic suspended the work last spring, Boyes said.
On June 4, the neighborhood’s popular First Friday events will restart as well, she said. Since 2018, the monthly outdoor parties have drawn thousands, celebrating the Boulevard’s musical backbone, and helping keep the neighborhood’s energy alive, she said.
“I think a lot of our momentum came from the public events that we were doing, so not being able to do a traditional First Friday event, that was hard,” Boyes said. “But we pivoted, and when numbers plateaued or started to go down during the summer, we were able to do some socially distant parking-lot concerts.”
With several recording studios on the Boulevard, Kenmore draws all calibers of music and instrument aficionados, Boyes said.
The Rialto Theatre is a live-music venue and studio. The Guitar Department is a new and used consignment shop offering music lessons and Lays Guitar Shop has been known since the '60s for instrument repair and restoration.
To promote the business district, KNA is also seeking an artist to help launch a marketing campaign, Boyes said.
“If you go to go to any small town downtown in a mainstream community across the United States, you will see a cool logo, you'll see a nice tagline, you'll see businesses advertising together,” she said. “You see efforts in the community to bring people down to the district. We want to help them succeed.”
KNA is looking for an artist who can capture the neighborhood’s legacy of combining hard-work with quality play by designing a logo that features a cardinal, Boyes said. Design submissions are due April 1, and guidelines can be viewed on the alliance’s website.
Marigold Sol will join Just a Dad from Akron clothing store, which was opened in March by community activist Kenny Lambert, who donates a percentage of profits to help struggling young parents and those battling addiction.
BrightStart Early Preschool opened at 1069 Kenmore Boulevard was started by former Kenmore High School student Aletha Harris.
Boyes said more businesses are in the works.
Not Just October, a nonprofit offering resources to breast cancer patients, survivors and their supporters, is planning a grand opening on May 1 for its Kim Jacobs Breast Resource Center.
A June opening is planned for a café at 975 Kenmore Boulevard featuring outdoor seating, and serving organic tea, coffee and natural foods.
With more storefronts available, anyone interested in opening a business on Kenmore Boulevard should contact Kenmore Neighborhood Alliance.