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Shops Closing a Normal Part of Doing Business

Three eateries in downtown Kent closed this month

This week we learned three of Kent's newer eateries that opened as part of downtown's redevelopment were forced to close their doors.

The Dog Squad and Arctic Squirrel, a gourmet hot dog shop and ice cream parlor, closed their doors one week ago today. Soup joint Funky Ladles also shut down.

They're certainly not the first.

And they won't be the last.

Do you remember Vintage Rehab? The store sold gently used clothing and was one of the first tenants in the first phase of the Acorn Alley redevelopment. The store closed in 2010 after being open slightly more than a year.

The silver lining there is that Off the Wagon expanded by taking over the former clothier space.

Did you ever peruse the fabrics at Katie Brooke Quilt Shop? The sewing and knitting shop, another early tenant of Acorn Alley, closed in 2011 after being open less than two years.

Remember the Main Street Snack Shoppe? That short-lived, student-run business closed in Acorn Alley after a brief stint selling candy and munchies.

Did you ever sit in Dancing Beta and enjoy their sushi? That restaurant closed after slightly more than a year in business in Acorn Alley.

The redevelopment area isn't the only place where businesses are being shuttered.

Practically a landmark, Spin-More Records shut down, after spinning albums for 30 years in the Kent Stage building, to make way for a business that could pay higher rent: Jimmy John's.

Professor's Pub gave way to Stone Tavern. The Backerei folded into Baked in the Village Café. Ramella's Pizzeria is at least the fourth incarnation of a pizza joint in the building on Erie Street.

Who remembers Thompson's Drug?

For almost every business that fails there is a success story.

Laziza remains a popular place for a dinner date. And the restaurant's owners plan to take over the Funky Ladles space and turn it into more of a café.

Popped! is selling so much popcorn that they've expanded into second-floor space in Acorn Alley.

Pita Pit remains a favorite for a quick lunch or dinner among students and townies alike. Finding a table at Tree City Coffee some days is more of a challenge than finding a Republican in Kent.

Did I mention Off the Wagon?

And even newer places, like Bar 145 and Yogurt Vi, appear to be drawing a lot of foot traffic.

Don't forget about the stalwarts — the places that have endured much longer and gave downtown Kent it's charm: McKay Bricker Gallery, City Bank Antiques, Sue Nelson Designs and Franklin Square Deli.

Are we going to see more businesses close? Perhaps. Is the sky falling? Not yet.

I won't be overly concerned about businesses, many of which have been start-ups, failing as part of downtown's redevelopment until after the parking garage opens, the Kent State hotel is bedding guests, the old Kent hotel opens and the new 32-unit apartment building across from Acorn Alley becomes a home to 32 families.

Until then, keep calm and support your local businesses.

William Gibson March 22, 2013 at 04:13 PM
I always thought Funky Ladles was actially "Funky LADIES" leading me to believe it was a womens clothing shop. The signage formula is simply terrible in this area--red and gold over top of redish colored brick? Seriously? No contrast means hard-to-read. I can understand the developer wanting to keep control of the look and maybe keep costs down for tenants, but its not helping the situation. There's no personality, and anything other than a concentrated effort to analyze what stores are there, leaves consumers guessing.
moral concerned kent historian neighbor man March 22, 2013 at 04:37 PM
i remember thompson's drug -i don't think it quite fits in with this story, but what a wonderful, family-run drug store it was. i also remember when the owner of funky ladles responded so "politely" to everyone on here a few months back. enough said.
Caitlin Campbell March 22, 2013 at 04:40 PM
Funky Ladles was originally Zoupwerks, but they had to change their name over some copyright issues. I agree about the signage though. Terribly hard to read.
Shannon March 22, 2013 at 05:21 PM
How much of Popped's revenue is from actual walk in customers? Do they not do most of their business by bulk shipping to places outside of Ohio? I read this article twice, but gleaned nothing from it. Would it not be more informative as to why these places are closing, rather than to go cliche with.."That's business,folks!" ? It's certainly not the style of signage. I mean, for how long can a food place possibly be mistakenly viewed as a woman's clothing store?
Amber S. March 22, 2013 at 05:22 PM
Sad to hear the news about Funky Ladles. That lobster sweet corn bisque was a favorite during cold, rainy days. Same goes for The Arctic Squirrel! Those chai smoothies will be missed for sure. I always thought they were a little pricy, IMHO. Not surprised about The Dog Squad, though. I went there once and was grossed out. My dog was cold, salty and rubbery. Ick.
Bonefishbill March 22, 2013 at 05:25 PM
William is so right! I was not aware of any of these places..what type of marketing did they do?
Sue JEffers March 23, 2013 at 01:16 AM
and as the number of competitors jammed into that space, and businesses relocating from old locations to new, the frequency of these closings will most likely increase.
Rachel Marie March 23, 2013 at 10:47 AM
I remember that response...reason why I never went there. Glad to see he is gone.
Frederick John Kluth March 23, 2013 at 11:48 AM
To survive a business must provide a service. If the service is to the community then the community benefits. The list of stalwarts is a bit short and gives no insight into what it takes to survive. Marketing is a problem in Kent because there are so many diverse forms of communication. People say advertise but in Kent it is ineffective because it cannot be directed. There needs to be a better vision for Kent. There has always been possibilities with little reality.
Sa;;y March 23, 2013 at 01:07 PM
Bonefishbill - they didn't know they needed to market. They were told by city officials " If we build it they will come". I hope when the students leave for the summer it doesn't cause too much of a decline in business for others and force more people to shut down. Personally, I don't have much interest in the shops they've opened. Some are interesting to look around but I really don't have a need for the wares they are selling at those prices. That said, I wish them all success. Just because I don't have a need I hope others do to keep these folks in business.
Eric March 23, 2013 at 08:12 PM
Geat article! Economics 101- turn over is healthy for any developed area. Nobody likes to see business's go, but thats just the way it is, nothing lasts forever folks. A typical small business takes nearly 3 years to become relatively profitable, and anywhere you go, a lot of business's end in that 1-3yr period. Acorn Alley is just starting, and finding what formula works for it. Its also rather exciting to see what new business's will start up, what new things people will try, and of course the incredible courage and guts of people who take risks to run a business on their own. Its easy to criticize progress and change in your community but its much harder to get involved yourself and to start taking your own risks. The perfect downtown will never happen in Kent because there is no perfect downtown anywhere. Its what you make of it and whether you choose to get involved.
Mick Mummy March 23, 2013 at 08:39 PM
I miss the westside's Main Street Tavern most of all scarecrow.
Mallory March 24, 2013 at 12:04 AM
Wow. This is a very sad attitude. I wish all of the new and old business owners luck. It is very brave to start a local business, especially in an uncertain economy. Thank you small business owners for having the guts to bring your ideas to Kent. I frequent most of the local establishments, new and old, and they each help provide Kent with a unique atmosphere. You should be proud of your town for taking an interest in making Kent a better place to live.
Pepper March 24, 2013 at 05:44 PM
If you want to mention Thompson Drug you have to mention Carson's Corner.
Frederick John Kluth March 25, 2013 at 03:07 PM
Kent could focus more on tourists and persons at some distance. Kent has many attractions to offer and many others could be easily developed. Kent culture could be developed a bit to support this.
Holly Monte March 26, 2013 at 08:23 PM
Going to Acorn Alley is an exercise in absolute frustration. Parking situation is horrible, I KNOW the garage is coming! Little comfort when you just want to get a bowl of soup to go. Adjacent empty parking lot is permit only. Just about ruined my car going off the drop-off at the end of the street. Contractors should be going out of their way to make situation easier for businesses to help them weather the disruption or the whole thing will be vacant by the time it's finished.
Lorin March 28, 2013 at 12:57 PM
I really, REALLY think they need a drug/convenience type place downtown that opens 24 hours. It might not be glamorous but I really think it would do well...when people are out drinking at the bars what kind of things do they want? Cigarettes, munchies for the walk home, bottled water. There is nothing like that really close to the bars so I think that would be a good idea. (And no, I am not a college student...a normal resident)

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