Where did the summer go? While we certainly enjoyed being able to get outside and to participate in activities such as 2nd Saturdays, it seems the three summer months flew by. The Farmer’s Almanac says we will have a warm fall, so there should still be time to enjoy outside activities for several months – maybe without the 90% humidity!

This month I am sharing 8 amazing facts about downtowns from Roger Brooks, international tourism & downtown expert. I’m interested in your opinion of  these facts and thoughts on how we, Oberlin, can take advantage of them as we plan for the future.

  1. The heart and soul of every community, besides its people, is its downtown. The health of a community can instantly be portrayed by the vitality of its downtown.  It provides that all-important first impression of the community that answers the questions:  “Is this a place I’d want to live?  A place my employees would want to live?  A place I’d want to hang out?
  2. The number one activity of visitors throughout the world is shopping, dining, and entertainment in a pedestrian friendly setting.  It’s typically not the reason people come to town, but the top diversionary activities once they are here.
  3. The average visitor is active 14 hours a day, yet they only spend four to six hours with the primary activity that brought them to town. Then they spend eight to ten hours with diversionary, or secondary activities – see above.
  4. Here’s the amazing statistic:  Secondary activities are where 80% of all visitor spending takes place!
  5. Curb appeal can account for 70% of visitor sales at restaurants, golf courses, retail shops, and lodging facilities. We could spend thousands of marketing dollars to get people into town, but none of that will make a visitor walk into a restaurant or retail shop and say, “Here’s my credit card.”  The merchant must do that.  We all travel.  Have you every uttered these words: “That looks like a nice place to eat.”
  6. If local residents do not hang out in our downtown, neither will visitors.  They want to be in a lively, thriving environment.  Think about this: When people travel to visit you, where do you take them?
  7. Then there’s the 10+10+10 rule or the “Rule of Critical Mass.”  After researching 400 towns and downtown districts, Roger found the minimum critical mass it takes to make a downtown a destination.  In just three lineal blocks a town must have a minimum of ten places that serve food: soda fountain, bistro, café, bakery, confectionary, sit-down restaurant, coffee shop, etc. The second 10 are destination retail shops that might include galleries, clothing, outfitters, artisans in action, wine shops, books, antiques, home accents, gardening, and gourmet cooking stores. And the third 10: Places open after 6 p.m., preferable entertainment.
  8. And that brings us to the most important and amazing statistic.  A full 70% of all consumer spending (locals and visitors alike) takes place after 6 p.m. 

Take a few minutes to digest this information and then put your thinking cap on
and let me know if you are interested in helping our downtown vitality group plan for a vibrant future.  obp.org@gmail.com or 440-774-6262 or 440-503-5031.

Two Oberlin Rotary Club members helped build the hanging rods and hang up
street banners that had been stored in OBP’s basement for years.
THANK YOU Stacy Terrell and Melanie Fredrickson.
OBP is planning a community showing of the banners
with an opportunity to purchase them soon.
2nd Saturdays in Oberlin – a resounding success!
During the 2nd Saturdays in Oberlin events downtown businesses reported significant increases in sales over the previous weekend with a range of  20–200%. Patrons commented on enjoying the activities in and outside of the stores. Businesses and participating groups were delighted to meet folks from not just outside the county, but outside the state. Some just happened to be in town for the day. 

Activities included sidewalk sales, family-friendly activities, community art, music, scavenger hunts, and a variety of nonprofits and food vendors on Tappan Square. The success was due to the collaborative approach of the planning and participation in events and activities. The primary goal went beyond bringing folks downtown; we sought ways to increase traffic into stores and businesses while also promoting service agencies and organizations in and around Oberlin. The events were the culmination of local businesses, organizations, nonprofits, Oberlin College, and area agencies coming together to promote activities in and around downtown Oberlin. Planning for 2nd Saturdays in Oberlin 2022 will begin in early 2022.  Anyone interested in helping to plan can contact Maureen Simen at 440-774-6262.

The Downtown Vitality group is coming together to plan fall and holiday activities for this year.  Stay tuned for dates, times, and a variety of events.
Last year OBP participated in the inaugural Connect to a Cause 2021 Day, hosted by the Community Foundation of Lorain County. This exciting event raised over $147k for local non-profits, and OBP raised $2100 to support our work in the community. We are excited to participate again in this year's event. #C2CLorainCounty

On September 16, from 8am–8pm, funds will be raised that directly impact our organization. You can 'shop' a grant catalog and choose OBP to donate to. Throughout the day, we will have the chance to receive additional dollars based on the amount raised.

We are eager to participate in Connect to a Cause and hope you will help us by contributing to our mission to advance and promote the sustainable growth and prosperity of Oberlin.
Board Member Profile
Morgan Kinnedy Smith
Contact: 440.822.2729morgan.kinnedy@gmail.com
Tell me a little bit about your business. I am the Manager of The Arb at Tappan Square, a new restaurant in Downtown Oberlin. The Arb is owned by the Smith family, who are natives to Oberlin. The goal of our team, which is mostly made of family members, is simply to provide really good food, and a unique atmosphere to the people of Oberlin. The Arb is a tribute to one of my favorite Oberlin sites, the arboretum. The name is essentially a tribute to Oberlin, and all of its magic. 

Tell me a little bit about you – your interests, passions, etc. I love using my free time to be extremely creative. Before opening the Arb, I was a makeup artist by trade. I love expressing myself through different artistic forms like singing, doing makeup and making soap! I am a huge nerd; I love spending hours finding things on the Internet! I love talking to people about any, and everything, and because I spend the majority of my time with people, I *really* love spending time alone! 

Why did/do you volunteer to be a board of trustees’ member? Simply because I am extremely in love with Oberlin, and I’m willing to do the work that it takes to preserve its history, promote its current awesomeness, and plan for our future. Oberlin is made up of people from all walks of life, and they need to be represented in official spaces. Jumping on this opportunity was a no-brainer for me.

What have you learned through your board membership involvement? I’ve learned that there are so many people who really care about Oberlin. 

Would you encourage others to become involved as a board member, committee member, or program or event volunteer?  If so, why? I would encourage people that care about Oberlin to do their research and find ways that they can be involved in the community, absolutely. Oberlin has so many different things going on, and there is always an opportunity to serve the greater good. At the end of the day, this is our home. Whether we’re here for a lifetime or just for the 4 years we are subject to school here. It’s our responsibility to present Oberlin in its finest light. 

What is one piece of advice or input you would like to share with our readers?  Have fun! Continue to smile when you can. We are all neighbors, and Oberlin is home to some of the nicest people on earth. Continue to love and support small businesses. Our community needs you desperately. 
Staff Member Profile
Maureen Simen
Program Manager
Contact: obpevents@gmail.com; 609.240.3522 or 440.973.6292
Tell us a little bit about you – what are your interests, passions? I’ve lived in Oberlin for ten years with my husband Pat and our son Ben, and we love being a part of this amazing community. I am involved with the League of Women Voters Oberlin Area and Lorain County Rising. I also recently launched my own literacy tutoring business, ReadUp!

During the pandemic I developed a real love of puzzles, especially the ones like Spelling Bee and Tiles in the New York Times. I also love working on our old house and finding the next show to binge on Netflix. My favorite thing to do, though, is to grab something to eat and drink downtown and spend time with my amazing friends.

Why did you decide to work with OBP? I believe in the mission of OBP and am excited to be a part of a team dedicated to collaborating with Oberlin businesses, organizations, and the College. Oberlin is a great place to live in and has been a wonderful place to raise our son, and so it’s exciting to help create events that bring folks downtown and that showcase what a great place Oberlin is. From assisting in the planning of Leadercast to Family Fun Fair to Second Saturdays in Oberlin, I take a lot of pride in being able to deliver a variety of programming and events for our community.

What skills and abilities do you bring to your new position? I love organizing events that bring people together and leave them asking when the next one will be. I care about the community I live in and believe in finding the best ways to contribute to it. Understanding what makes an event in Oberlin unique requires listening to and considering ideas from a wide range of people, and there is a wealth of talent, experience, and knowledge in Oberlin to draw on! 

What is one piece of advice or input you would like to share with our readers – especially during the COVID-19 challenges?  Be kind to yourself and focus on what is best to keep you, your family, and your community as safe as possible. We must remember that we are in this together and that the only real control we often have is how we respond to the challenges we are faced with. It’s okay to take some time to reflect on what that response should be.
Business Profile
Francesca Barbee
The Hope Collection by INTO
Contact: fbarbee@intoworld.org
Tell me a little bit about your business. Core Mission: Building an honest and compassionate company, committed to returning dignity to global trade. INTO is a non-profit, fair-trade company reaching out to individuals, families, and communities in various parts of Ecuador. INTO was founded in 2003 by Oberlin College seniors, Francesca (Peterson) Barbee and Malisha Richardson. 

INTO offers its partner artisans a long-term commitment to provide fair wages in their local contexts, product development, cost analysis education, microloans and access to more profitable outside markets. INTO’s approach is rooted in transparency, empowerment and ultimately love. 

As INTO’s director, I explored various sales outlets in the United States, marketing the artisans’ products through direct retail sales, online, wholesale and consignment programs. In 2017, I and my husband Marco Barbee (OC ’04) and two young children moved to Ecuador to pursue rural business development.  What emerged was the expansion of INTO’s direct partnerships from two family workshops to eight.  We returned to the United States in July 2019 and In September 2020, INTO opened a non- profit fair trade store in Oberlin called The Hope Collection. The store includes all  INTO’s products as well as those from friends and colleagues that work in 18 countries and counting across the globe.

Tell me a little bit about you – what are your interests, passions, etc. I love the Andes mountains and speaking Spanish. I love to take hikes with my family, and we enjoy sports together as well as being a part of our local faith community.  

Why did you decide to open your business in Oberlin? We were pivoting in a global pandemic. INTO, traditionally a wholesaler and retailer at larger outdoor festivals and national venues, watched as almost all our sales channels dried up. As a fair-trade organization, we were committed to continuing to purchase from the eight family workshops in Ecuador we have worked with for years. At the time we opened The Hope Collection by INTO many storefronts in Oberlin were available. We also received support from members of the Oberlin community and fair-trade colleagues who offered their fixtures from a store closing in Pittsburgh. There were many pieces fitting together, we believed it was the right opportunity to pursue.

Why are you joining the Oberlin Business Partnership? We look forward to joining OBP soon as we observe the great role it has in the business community!

Would you encourage others to join? If so, why? The support OBP offers to the merchant community is vital for continued growth and expertise. Thank you OBP!

What is one piece of advice or input you would like to share with our readers – especially during the COVID-19 challenges? Our community relies on each other.  We all work together to build a fair, healthy and peaceful place. Our kindness and thoughtfulness are crucial during such a challenging time.
Opportunity to Share and Receive!
CoWork Oberlin’s Resident Business Advisor, Megan Apple, is available to offer support and advice. She can be reached at megan@avirtualcertainty.com.
Profit Joyfully Business Network for Women
A twice monthly coach-facilitated group for female entrepreneurs to provide support, networking opportunities, business coaching and advising. You can join at any time.
Register here.
City buildings are once again open to the public during normal business hours. Business may still be conducted via telephone or email, however. Please visit www.cityofoberlin.com for City contact information and follow us on Facebook and Twitter for up to date information!

  • City Board/Commission Vacancies: The City of Oberlin is accepting applications from Oberlin residents interested in serving on City boards or commissions, for terms beginning January 1, 2022. Interested applicants may apply online HERE, or obtain a paper application from the Clerk of Council’s Office (85 S. Main Street). Applications are due by Monday, November 8, 2021 at 4:30pm. For more information, please contact Clerk of Council Belinda Anderson at 440-775-7203 or BAnderson@CityofOberlin.com.
  •  City Construction Updates: The City of Oberlin has several construction projects going on throughout the summer months. To keep residents and businesses informed, updates on City construction projects are now available on the City’s website: www.CityofOberlin.com/Construction-Updates. This webpage also contains links to updates regarding Oberlin College’s Sustainable Infrastructure Project. If there are specific questions regarding City construction projects, please contact the Public Works Department at 440-775-7218.
  •  News & Updates: The City sends bi-monthly newsletters to residents with information on City programs, services and events. These items, along with past editions of News & Updates mailers are now available online HERE.
  • City Email Updates: Keep up to date on important City announcements, including City programming and service updates, job openings, event announcements and more!  Sign up today: https://bit.ly/3fwR5kc.
  • Emergency Notification System: It’s more important than ever to stay informed.  Members of the local workforce are encouraged to register for the Wireless Emergency Notification System (WENS). This system is used by the City of Oberlin and Lorain County to alert the community about emergency situations, such as boil alerts, power outages, street closures, weather alerts, etc.  Alerts can be received via email, text message and/or voicemail. Register HERE. For more information, contact the Oberlin Fire Department at 440-774-3211 or fireinfo@cityofoberlin.com.