A ZipsGuide to Father's Day

A ZipsGuide to Father's Day

Here are gift ideas from more than 20 downtown Akron businesses to celebrate dad while shopping local and supporting your neighbors.

By Shananne Lewis

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I often think of my dad as Father’s Day approaches. He worked so hard to earn his degree in Human Relations back in 1969, but only had five years to enjoy his success as he passed away in 1974.

I would have loved the opportunity to craft and eventually shop for Father’s Day for my own dad. Doing research for this story to help you find the perfect gift for your dad has brought me a lot of joy - knowing that I may possibly help someone else find the perfect Dad gift for their father.

Ever since my husband and I had kids, I’ve felt lucky to get to choose gifts that celebrate his fatherly love and grateful that my children have also had that experience. 

That said, we all know dads are notoriously hard to shop for. There is a running societal joke about the ties, socks, golf accessories, tools and lawncare items dads are likely to receive for Father’s Day.

This guide is all about small, local alternatives that dad will love and that reflect his unique personality.

I actually made a purchase that I am quite excited about for my own husband while at the Northside Marketplace working on this story. 

I cannot reveal what I bought JUST in case he reads this article before Father’s Day. But I will say…it will provide him a sense of true Akron spirit. Confession… I bought myself one for Mother’s Day too.

Note: Many of the dad gifts below are available inside of Northside District, and many of those are inside Northside Marketplace at 21 Furnace Street (just so you don’t have to read that address over and over).

The Lewis family (l-r) Jacob Lewis, Shananne Lewis, the "father" in their Father's Day, Todd Lewis and RaeAnna Lewis. Photo courtesy of Shananne Lewis.

Constantly Quoting Old Movies Dad

Does your dad pretty much constantly quote lines from National Lampoons Christmas Vacation? “It’s not going in our living room, Russ.” Sometimes when dad delivers these quotes in public, people flash confused looks and think “who is Russ?” If that line, however, immediately brings an image of Clark W. Griswold’s (Chevy Chase’s) wild eyes to mind coupled with the sound of dad’s laughter, then you too may have a constantly quoting dad. 

This dad loves old movies. Old depends on your frame of reference, of course, but anything created 2000 and earlier counts as retro these days. Treat your movie-quote-loving dad to a membership at the Nightlight Cinema in downtown Akron, which regularly shows retro and cult classic films. 

“Hold onto your butts,” (do you know what movie that one came from?) because this membership is legendary. Get dad a Gold Level membership and you’ll pay $20/month (or $240 for one year). What will dad get? UNLIMITED FREE TICKETS to regular showtimes at the theatre. 

Of course, there are “a few provisos, a couple of quid pro quos” (who knows that quote?). Only the named member can use the membership benefit, and it can only be used once during a regular showtime. But, on Member Mondays, Gold-level members can bring a guest for free.

We think it’s a pretty good deal, though, we also think it will encourage dad to add new quotes to his rep, so, sorry mom.



For the Dad Who’s Always Sad on Sunday

Does your dad love Cleveland/Akron sports? Besides needing a hug, we’ve got some great ideas featuring someone of our winningest teams in the region. 

If dad loves the Buckeyes, UA Press does it again. Ohio State Football, the Forgotten Dawn by Robert Roman, tells the untold stories of the early days. Debates over the hiring of coaches, eligibility, and construction of the sites are all part of the package. A nice addition to any Buckeye lover’s collection, this book will help dad learn the trivia to show his deeply held Buckeye allegiance. Go Bucks! 


Is dad #ForeverZip? Every true fan of the Zips needs new, officially licensed Zips gear from the UA Bookstore yearly. Order on the website and choose free in-store pick up for maximum convenience or drop in to the store and browse. Students who live on campus can grab dad’s gift before they head to summer break. UA football, basketball and soccer have had successful seasons in recent memory, but so have a variety of other sports like track and field, baseball, and swimming. We know this isn’t historical dad, but maybe share the history of Zippy this Father’s Day. In 1954, UA student Jim Dick won an art contest that asked students to create a school mascot. Though originally named Mr. Zip, the Roo eventually evolved to Zippy, our famously-female mascot (good thing someone noticed she had a pouch). If you haven’t seen it yet, there’s an insanely adorable Zippy Squishmallow® available this gifting season. Go Zips!

If dad is a King James fan, we are in love with the Lebron/Akron t-shirt from 7th Floor Clothing (inside Northside Marketplace). Choose the Lebron t-shirt in one of several colors or check out the Akron t-shirts instead. There is also an option to get a t-shirt custom made. Browns Superbowl Winners t-shirt anyone? 

(Top) Recent retro features at Nightlight Cinema. (Center) The Lebron/Akron shirt from 7th Floor Clothing. (Bottom) The UA Zips Mac Men's Basketball Champion shirt. All photos courtesy of the business website.

(Top) Mama T and her selection of homemade spice blends. (Center) Indigo BBQ's Backyard BBQ Bundle. Photos courtesy of the business website. (Bottom) Akron Honey's Northside Marketplace display by Julie Cajigas.

Dad the Foodie

We all have heard the adage, “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” The thing about dad is, not only does he like good food, but he also often prides himself on making certain special meals. Some dads love to grill out for summer BBQs and some dads love to make a seven-course pancake breakfast. If your dad loves to cook or just loves to eat, downtown Akron has gifts galore.

If dad likes to visit flavor town, you should visit Northside Marketplace. Inside the shops, Hola Island Provisions Marketplace offers a series of marinades that bring out the zesty in all of us. Choose from Cuban, Puerto Rican, or Jamaican and enjoy some great cooking in the future.


To add a little spice, visit the new The Plannerz Place Eatery to pick up some of Mama T’s Seasonings and Salts. If you’ve eaten from the Plannerz Place’s rotating menu, you already know that Mama T knows her spices. Get dad some tasty taco, spicy Italian, Cajun, or lemon pepper to mix with his marinade.


What else does dad need for the perfect summer BBQ? Sauce of course. All the sauce. Owner Mark of Indigo Lake Sauce Company sure has mastered the art of BBQ. He attended his first Rib Cook-Off way back in 1983. Pick up his Mango Chipotle Rub or Cherry Bourbon Artisanal BBQ Sauce at his Northside Marketplace shop. What you can’t find at Northside you can find online, along with Mark’s recipes so dad can dazzle with his grill meats all summer long. 


What’s a rib sauce without a bit of sweet? We recommend Akron Honey. Bourbon Barrel Honey, anyone? Or how about Habanero Hot Honey to stir up the taste buds? Not sure what to put your honey on? No worries, recipes are provided on this website along with stories of how they are working to save the bees. 


You know what honey goes great with? Tea. For the tea drinking dad, Chris Charek, aka the Tea Dude, has great products at both Northside Marketplace and The Cellar Door Store at The Hower House Museum. Specialty flavors include Fireball, Tropical Thunder, and Staycation. Look for recipes under his Tea Dude news link and enjoy a night of tea and laughter with dad. 

Now for dessert. If you’d like to give the gift of dessert to dad all year long, secure a Fat T’s cookie subscription. Yes, you can subscribe to cookies. Sure, you can get a la carte Fat T’s at Northside, but if you really want to blow dad’s mind, sign him up for him a subscription so he can receive a monthly dose of delicious. Choose from Full Fat or the Fat Lite Subscription, this will deliver a true homemade experience right to Dad’s door. 


Finally, we’ve reached a foodie find that’s not inside Northside (that place really does have everything). If dad prefers frozen delights, check out Chill and Indulge. With two locations in Medina and one location on Main Street, this “chill” store will provide local and fresh ingredients. At the Akron spot, the vegan wildberry and the chocolate milk with cookies are perfect examples of exotic flavors. The Bourbon Fig may be the next best sample one will try. And milkshakes can be made from any of their 32 flavors. Yes, please, I would like a Lavender Lime Rosemary milkshake, with my dad, of course.


(Top) Dirty River Bikes shop and their outdoor wall mural. Photos by Chris Stein and Julie Cajigas. (Bottom) a corner of the My Eco Shop in Northside Marketplace. Photo by Julie Cajigas.

Bike Shorts Dad

We all know a dad who wears bike shorts, right? Hopefully, it’s because he loves riding his bike. If not, we definitely question his fashion sense. 

If your dad likes to ride, Dirty River Bicycle Works on North Main Street is a downtown bike destination with group rides, events, products, and bike repair services. The shop keeps brand name bikes on stock, or they can specialty order from Otso Cycles, Fairdale, Soma, and Salsa just to name a few. 

The dad who loves bikes deserves a gift from Dirty River Bicycle Works. Products consist of everything bike related from helmets to fenders to hubs and wheels. 

Or, does his bike need a tune-up? They have packages that range from $20 to $500 to take care of that precious bike. Stop in to find out what he needs, and order online or in person. 


Eco Dad

Whether he routinely watches the Nature channel or insists on composting despite a growing racoon infestation, your dad wants to save the planet.

Check out My Eco Shop inside Northside Marketplace on Furnace Street where you can find a variety of products for the dad interested in office essentials, personal care, or on the go products which we like to refer to as “dad delights.” 

These can include dental floss picks, shampoo bars, bug repellent sprays, and other holistic remedies easily accessible by web site or at the store. 

Who knows, this may start a trend with more eco friendly habits that can last for years to come. 


Arts and Crafts Dad

Was your dad more excited about your high school shop class than he was about your graduation? He might be an arts and crafts dad. This dad probably has a belt sander and a serious table saw, but he also appreciates the fine arts and likes to make things that are nice to look at (but, of course, functional).

Take this dad to Street Craftery, located on South Main Street in the heart of downtown. 

Splatter Painting is a great option for the dads, according to their website, “Let go of frustration. Release control. Create something great.” 

What better gift for a dad who is willing to unleash his artistic genius or to spend some quality time together? Make an appointment online for Splatter Alley where one can choose the starter, the panoramic, the masterpiece, or the Duo Canvas.

If dad needs a break from making a mess at home, another way to go for arts and crafts dad is to purchase work by a true craftsman. 

Check out Jenna Spooner’s guide story on Cuyahoga Valley Woodworks, where you can snag dad a beautiful, rustic yet finely crafted piece of wood. They have cutting boards, visually striking planters, décor and more.

Maybe dad wants to show off his sophisticated ar-teest side. Little Louvre at Northside Marketplace offers specialty framed pictures with real artistic flair. 

If you look closely, you will find Akron themed designs that will give the home some Akron flavor along with Parisian-style photos. You know your dad, so you probably know his style. 

Why not help a little with some room décor? This new display at Northside will have you desiring a whole new look for the home, office, or even garage. Maybe a trip to the real Louvre in France can be next year’s Father’s Day gift…

(Right Top) Shananne Lewis holding up framed prints at Little Louvre photo by Julie Cajigas. (Right Bottom)  Splatter Alley at Street Craftery. Photo courtesy of Street Craftery.

History Channel Dad
Is the History Channel always on? Does dad maybe have a realistic historical costume from a forgotten age? Does he engage you in strange conversations about the lack of indoor plumbing in Buckingham Palace during the Victorian age? Then have we got some ideas!

Grab dad a book on local history by a local author from The University of Akron Press at its Northside Marketplace shop. You’ll find a variety of nostalgic and informative options. Overseen by a faculty editorial board, The Press has been publishing since 1988. 

For those who love memories of the Soap Box Derby, Melanie Payne has written Champions, Cheaters, and Childhood Dreams. For those who love history of rubber in Akron, the book written by Seve Love and David Giffels called Wheels of Fortune would be an excellent choice. Maybe with some encouragement, dad will start writing himself. A handheld, paper (old-fashioned) book is a lasting gift that dad can treasure for years to come.  

History Channel dad will also likely enjoy a visit to The Hower House Museum, one of downtown’s hidden historical gems.

The Hower House Museum has a new self-guided tour for you to share with dad: ‘Essential Luxuries of the Upper Class: Tea with the Howers.’ This tour is currently available and runs through September 2024

Upon entering the museum, guests will step back in time to afternoon teatime in elegant attire, surrounded by conversations of a different sort from those that one might hear today.

Located on the campus of The University of Akron, the 28-room mansion originally had no electricity or running water, instead it used a gravity fed flush system and coal burning fireplaces. It is documented in its history that the Howers were one of the first private Akron households to add modern plumbing. 

This makes Hower House one of the very first ‘modern homes’ – very hip for its time. Running water, electricity and telephone installed symbolized elite status in the Victorian age.  And it will answer some of dad’s questions about Buckingham Palace too.

The University of Akron press has a large selection available inside of Northside Marketplace. Photo by Shananne Lewis.

(Top) Conasto guitars wall of awesome at Northside Marketplace. (Center) Akron on Deck II. (Bottom) snack pillows and Dad tools at 224 creations. Photos courtesy of business websites. Snack pillows by Taylor Loftin.

'When I was in a Band' Dad
Was your dad in a band? Was it about a million years ago? Do you suspect it wasn’t nearly as good as he says it was? Or, maybe he’s a bonafide rockstar. Does he still have his old axe? Are the connections spotty because it has 30 years of dust inside? Help him rekindle his musical gift with a brand-new guitar. 

If you’re familiar with the music scene, you know there are quite a few guitar shops in the neighborhood surrounding downtown, some famous ones in fact. What you might not know is that inside Northside Marketplace Conasto Guitars offers beautifully crafted art pieces that also make music. Check them out on Instagram: @conasto_guitars

Dad the Card Shark
Does dad play poker? Bridge? Euchre? Bullsh*t? No matter what he plays, if dad loves cards and Akron, then Akron On Deck is an epic gift. Akron On Deck is a high-quality deck of cards that features 54 Akron businesses and landmarks. Each one is designed by a local artist. 

But wait, there's more! 

In 2022, they produced Akron on Deck II, with different icons and landmarks. (An Akron Bicentennial Edition is coming in December of 2024.) Purchase on campus at the University of Akron Alumni Association (InfoCision Stadium), Northside Marketplace, Summit Artspace, Rubber City Comics, The Peanut Shoppe, Akron Art Museum, or Akron Children’s Museum. 



Dad the Fanboy

Does your dad love to geek out over comic books, Funko Pop collectibles, Star Wars, Star Trek, Marvel, or DC? Don’t miss the chance to shop at Rubber City Comics at their flagship shop at 74 E Mill St in downtown or in their secondary shop inside of Northside Marketplace. The shop lists its weekly releases on its website and offers frequent events, sales, and other promotions. 

As of the writing of this guide, their website is featuring a Shawn Coss signed print of Spiderman’s ‘Venom.’



Tatted Dad

Does dad love tats? Does he wear short sleeves to show off his real sleeves? Or do you love tats …and your dad? India Ink (guess where? Northside Marketplace!) specializes in creating realistic portrait tattoos, which are a fantastic way to honor dad. 

If you both love tats, get matching ones as a Father’s Day activity. India Ink is downtown Akron’s only black female owned tattoo shop, so support black businesses as part of your Father’s Day gift. Heck, make it an annual tradition.


Tim the Tool Dad Taylor

We know, we know. We promised no ties, tools, or golf balls on this list, but this is too cute to pass up. 224 Creations (Northside) has a heavy-duty tape measure with a laser engraved wooden plate with various Father’s-day appropriate messages. 


If dad is funny like Tim Allen, he’ll also enjoy 224’s humorous wood carved “Last Nerve.”  Remember all those comments from Dad or Mom about "getting on their last nerve?" Inside a small tube is one small carved nerve. You can hold it up and say – here it is, my last nerve, don’t get on it. 

224 also offers other joke selections throughout their shop. Check it out online or in person for a laugh. Check out their snack food pillows, too, including pillows that look like bags of Doritos, Hot Cheetos and Froot Loops. Made dad laugh – it’s good for the soul.


Not Dad Dad

There’s something beautiful about recognizing solo moms on Father’s Day. Solo momming is hard. Did your mom step in to do both the momming and the dadding? If so, re-read this guide with her in mind. If the above ideas don’t fit mom’s personality, we humbly direct you to our Mother’s Day guide, by Liv Ream, which has an additional group of ideas to honor a special woman in your life.   

I wish I had had an opportunity to buy my father, Steve Miller, an actual Father's Day gift. In some way, I feel I am honoring his 29 years on earth with this article. Writing about these gift ideas for dad has made me excited to shop for the people I do have in my life. I hope it has made you excited too. 

Have fun shopping for the dad in your life and please remember to cherish these moments celebrating his love. 

Shananne Lewis is a post-bac student and full-time staff member at The University of Akron. She is assisting with ZipsGuide as part of an independent study this semester.

Want to reach Shananne? 

Email her here.

Ready to learn about some hand curated Akron awesome? See gifts by type here:

Downtown Akron Partnership Announces Downtown Dollars E-Gift Card Program > read more here.