If you can’t resist the aroma of the freshly roasted nuts at The Peanut Shoppe in downtown Akron, blame owner Marge Klein. She’s the woman responsible for keeping the tradition alive. Opened in 1934 as a company-owned Planter’s Peanut Shop, Klein’s dad bought the store as an independent in 1980. She took over ownership when he died in ‘98.
Klein and her crew, Bob Peacock, Debra Keyser and Sandy Kitchen—three employees with a combined seniority of more than 60 years—still use 1930s peanut roasters to cook 20 pound batches of unsalted peanuts in their shells each day. Cashews, almonds, pecans and shelled peanuts are fresh roasted daily, too.
Many of Klein’s customers were introduced to The Peanut Shoppe by their parents. Now they’re bringing their own children downtown to visit the store.
A people person, Klein loves the long-term relationships she’s forged through her many years in business. Talking with customers and getting to know them is one of Klein’s favorite things about her job. “I love hearing their stories and sharing memories with them,” she says.
Even though her business has taken some hits in the past few years, she is optimistic about its future. Key Bank is moving in nearby, Christmas business is brisk and store traffic picks up in the summer months when more people come downtown for events at Lock 3.
Personal History: Lived in Kenmore and Norton before moving to Copley. Two grown children—Blane and Christy.
Hobbies: Car races (dirt and blacktop), motorcycling, flower gardening and bird watching.
Pets: “Tiggers,” a calico cat who loves angel food cake
Favorite local getaway: Walking in the Metro Parks.
Hidden talent: Baking.
Toughest thing about running a business: Paying the bills and keeping up with rapid price increases.
Typical work week: 72 hours.
Memorabilia: A vintage Mr. Peanut costume that she brings out for parades and pre-school field trips.
Favorite causes: Haven of Rest. Programs against domestic violence and drug abuse.
Favorite movie: “It’s A Wonderful Life”
Favorite TV shows: “The Closer” and reruns of “Seinfeld”
Passions: Family and grandkids. “I wouldn’t be where I am without the help of family and friends,” she says.
Personal heroes: “My parents. They taught me to work hard, but put family and friends first.”
Top sellers at the store: Almonds and cashews. Chocolate covered pretzels and chocolate covered peanuts. Soft-serve frozen yogurt in summer.
Best-kept secrets: Natural peanut, almond and cashew butters.
Klein’s personal favorite: Salted peanuts mixed with candy corn. “Tastes like a PayDay,” she says.