The choices are endless.

There are gold stickers for honor students, Pete The Cat-themed wall calendars and robots that display flashcards.

Books for counting, books of math problems, and books that bake math into the story, like peas into macaroni and cheese.

And in every aisle of the quaint store, especially in the weeks leading up to the first day of school, there's usually a teacher.

"We have been coming for years," said third-grade teacher Coleen Mock of the Buckeye Local school district in Medina. "We make it an annual tradition."

Educators at Heart, which is transitioning away from its former name of Creative Curriculum, has ingrained itself with teachers across Northeast Ohio for the last three decades. With new ownership and a move up South Arlington Road from Green into Springfield Township, the local business is holding down a niche in the education supplies market, attracting teachers from all over the country to Summit County. 

"We want the in-store experience to be so good that they don't go online to buy stuff," said owner Tom Orihel, a previously retired soccer coach and hardware store owner.

It seems to be working, with groups of teachers traveling in vans from as far away as Virginia and Pennsylvania to do their back-to-school shopping, Orihel said.

Tom and Jodi Orihel became the store's third owners in November. Jodi Orihel, a former Akron Public Schools teacher, had spent many hours and dollars at the store during her teaching days.

"I could be in here for hours, just looking at things, getting ideas," she said.

"It was cheaper for me to buy the store than to let her keep shopping here," her husband joked.

Now, their daughter Kimmie Orihel is also a teacher, and is working at the store this summer. She's one of several teachers on the store's staff.

Most of their customers are teachers searching for classroom decor or ways to enhance their lesson plans, Tom Orihel said, but they also see many parents and grandparents looking for education-focused toys or materials for their children and grandchildren. Some are searching for help in a certain subject area, looking to alleviate a child's struggle in math or reading.

"We just love being part of the process, is really what the story's about," Orihel said.

They moved into their new building at 2863 S. Arlington Road in February because their lease in Green was expiring, but it allowed for expanded space and inventory.

The space is bigger and brighter, and customers have noticed, Orihel said.

"We smile every day that we're here," he said.

 

Contact Jennifer Pignolet at jpignolet@thebeaconjournal.com, at 330-996-3216 or on Twitter @JenPignolet.