The Stage Left boutique that benefits the adjacent Akron Civic Theatre is disappearing from downtown’s Main Street but a satellite operation will remain inside the theater.
Howard Parr, executive director of the Akron Civic Theatre, said the poor condition of the store building on Main Street is prompting the shutdown.
The boutique, just south of the theater, was an all-volunteer enterprise, operated by the Civic Women’s Guild for more than 15 years. It carried a wide variety of items, including Civic logo mugs, mouse pads and shot glasses, costume jewelry and Wizard of Oz collectibles.
Parr noted that last year, the Civic’s administrative offices moved from the same building. The Civic does not own the brick building, an 80-plus-year-old structure that once housed a Rite Aid.
“We were starting to have repair issues and we had the opportunity to move” the administrative offices, Parr said. “The repair issues continued to get worse so we decided we needed to leave the building completely.”
The Women’s Guild will continue to operate the Stage Left boutique inside the Bowery Street entrance of the 1929 theater. The shop opens an hour before shows and remains open through intermissions.
The Stage Left on Main followed this schedule, and also was open from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. The store ceased daily operations this month.
A tag sale of store fixtures and some gift items will run this weekend from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at 186 S. Main.
The boutique was one of the few retail storefronts in downtown. The downtown — like many across the United States — lost its department stores, as well as some other retail outlets, in earlier decades.
Guild member Mary Anne Rothermel said guild members will miss the Main Street store as a fundraising venue.
“To be on Main Street was a fantastic opportunity and we were there for 15?˝ years. That’s a long time,” she noted.
“It’s kind of nice not to have the responsibility,” she said, “but it was there an awfully long time.”
Rothermel said the Women’s Guild has expanded the Stage Left shop inside the theater, and also will sell items from a moveable stand — Rothermel calls it a “display case on wheels” — on the nights of select shows.
The Civic’s administrative offices moved last year to the downtown Akron headquarters of soap maker GOJO Industries Inc. In early March, the offices will move again, to Summit County’s Ohio Building at 175 S. Main St. The move means the offices will again be close to the theater at 182 S. Main.
The old Rite Aid building is owned by Main Street Partners, which wants to rehabilitate it, as well as the Landmark building and other structures north of the Civic on Main Street. The group is seeking financing for the project. Main Street Partners envisions a mixed-use center with restaurants, office space and apartments near the Civic, as well as Lock 3 Park.
Katie Byard can be reached at 330-996-3781 or firstname.lastname@example.org.