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Photo by Shane Wynn
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Photo by Natalie Spencer
Storeowner reflects on tasty history.
The Peanut Shoppe of Akron is a staple to downtown. For those walking the streets, it’s a one-stop shop to satisfy your sweet tooth. This iconic store has been in downtown Akron for 83 years and has weathered the storm of changes that has swept the area. “It’s the impeccable smell of hot, freshly roasted peanuts that carry their way for two blocks on either side of the store [that has] helped establish the history and create memories that will never be forgotten,” says Marge Klein, the storeowner.
Who first got the peanuts roastin’?
In 1980 my dad, Jack Ashbrook, purchased the store from Joe Lampasone, who had owned the store for 30 years.
What’s the most lovable thing about the Peanut Shoppe?
The best thing in the store is the wide assortment of nuts and candies, learning a little history and observing the memorabilia on our shelves and walls. And I have to include our friendly staff, who put their customers first and are always eager to accommodate them.
Have you always been in your current location or have you moved around?
The store was originally located at 139 S. Main St., which was north of Bowery St., approximately across from where the Cascade Plaza is situated. In 1937 it moved to 176 S. Main St. in the Whitelaw building, next door to the Civic Theatre. About 12 years ago, we moved to our current location, 203 S. Main St., across from Lock 3.
Any fun stories about the Peanut Shoppe over the years?
The peanut costume was worn by high school students who were employed at the store during the 1930s, ‘40s and ‘50s. We enjoy listening to customers tell their stories of those days. They recall watching "Mr. Peanut" walk down Main St., passing out samples of peanuts. They also say that some [people] were actually afraid of him.
Why stay in downtown? Has there ever been any discussion about moving away from Downtown Akron?
The store has always been downtown. I can’t imagine it ever being anywhere else. This is "home" for the Peanut Shoppe.
What is the coolest thing to come to downtown while you have worked there?
The baseball stadium, home of the RubberDucks. Lock 3 has also been a great addition to the area.
Out of all the peanuts, which is your absolute favorite?
I love all the peanuts and tree nuts that we sell. I do eat them every day.
What is one thing you were sad to see leave downtown?
We miss all of the retail businesses that were located up and down Main St. Those were good days. It brought more patrons to downtown, which was beneficial for our shop.
What does the future look like for the Peanut Shoppe?
We are keeping a positive outlook and are hoping that more businesses find their way to the downtown area. Foot traffic is what keeps our store going.
What treats are the fan favorites?
Our best sellers are honey cashews, chocolate covered pretzels, honey cinnamon almonds and dark chocolates.
Why should people walk into the Peanut Shoppe when visiting downtown?
People should visit the Peanut Shoppe to experience the tastes and smells of fresh roasted peanuts. Observing the old fashion mechanical weight scales and original gas peanut roasters, plus the showcases from the 1930s give you a feeling like you’re going back in time.