Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

New Businesses Open in Oberlin

In recent months, several businesses have opened in Oberlin: Uptown Clothing & More, Oberlin Tobacco and Vape, Main Street Grille, and a new Dollar General.

Uptown Clothing & More — which is located on College Street near The Arb at Tappan Square and Doobie’s — opened six months ago, with a grand opening event Nov. 30.

“It was always a dream of mine to open an inclusive, affordable boutique,” owner Kayleigh Scaff said. “It’s something I’ve been working on for many years.”

The store offers a variety of items, ranging from clothing to jewelry to pet supplies.

“It’s younger, affordable fashion,” Scaff said. “It’s not only clothing. … We just cater to all crowds. There’s something for everyone in your family there, or your household.”

Though Uptown Clothing & More has been successful so far, the store has faced challenges common to small businesses in similar locations. When college students are on breaks, it has been more difficult for Scaff to hire staff and reel in customers. She works to find creative solutions to draw in the local community. 

“I try to do promotions to bring the community in,” Scaff said. “I like to include everybody. So, for instance, [on] Valentine’s Day, I did the ‘What do you love?’ on my windows. And I invited people … to come in and put what they love on the windows.”

This promotion involved a metal bucket of sticky notes outside the shop where community members could write down anything they love and announce it to the world on the shop’s windows.

Oberlin Tobacco and Vape — located on Main Street near Ratsy’s and The Local Coffee & Tea — opened about six months ago, according to co-owner Salman Alamari. Despite some initial challenges, business has been good. Alamari said the business had experienced challenges relating to a lack of parking and legal issues regarding city regulations on window signage.

Though Doobie’s, another smoke shop, is nearby on College Street, Alamari was not worried about competition when he and his co-owners first opened.

“Eighty percent of my products in the store [are] different than what [they’ve] got,” Alamari said. “We came from an area [where] there’s three smoke shops next to each other and we all make money, we all friends.”

Main Street Grille had its grand opening Feb. 1. It opened on South Main Street in the building of the old Oberlin Kitchen, which permanently closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The restaurant is open for breakfast and lunch. They offer daily specials and a soup of the day, as well as an extensive menu of breakfast items, entrees, and sandwiches. The family-owned diner has seen success in its first weeks.

The Dollar General on South Main Street, located in the shopping plaza with AutoZone and CVS, also opened Feb. 1. Its location has made grocery shopping more convenient for both community members residing in the central part of Oberlin and college students who rely on walking or bicycling for transportation.

The new location dedicates about half of its inventory to food and grocery, including some perishable items. A freezer and refrigerated section wraps around two walls while snacks and beverages make up much of the aisles. The rest of the store offers discounted toiletries, household appliances, clothing, and other wares.

The Dollar General on West College Street is no longer in operation.

“I think now that the pandemic is starting to really subside, we’re starting to see a lot of people wanting to take that risk again and opening up businesses in Oberlin,” Interim Executive Director of Oberlin Business Partners Sharon Pearson said.

Pearson was hired in January after the retirement of Janet Haar, who served as director of the OBP for 12 years. Since then, Pearson has been working to shift the Chamber of Commerce’s focus from programming and events to the businesses themselves.

“We’re becoming more membership-focused to really understand what the needs of the businesses are and try to figure out ways in which we can help support all the various businesses, especially those that are our members here in Oberlin.”

Membership in the OBP is organized in seven different tiers, ranging from OBP Community Supporter to Community Stakeholder. Each has their own benefits and services provided by the Partnership; many businesses in Oberlin — like Uptown Clothing & More — opt for the Classic package. Meant for small brick-and-mortar businesses, Classic members receive advertising assistance, inclusion in local promotions, and other benefits. Oberlin Tobacco and Vape, Main Street Grille, and Dollar General are not members of the OBP.

Pearson, who worked in Lorain for four years prior to joining the OBP, said that larger, post-industrial cities in the surrounding area struggle more to maintain thriving local businesses.

“You have a lot of empty storefronts,” Pearson said in reference to other cities. “If you go [to] downtown Elyria … it’s really hit and miss. I think communities like Vermilion, Amherst, [and] Oberlin really have … something where people want to be there. Oberlin has been very fortunate.”

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