Downtown Findlay celebrated its “grand re-opening” on November 25. Most of my family was already in town for Thanksgiving, so the timing was perfect for me to join my wife, my mother, my sister, my mother-in-law, and my sister-in-law to experience the celebration. Right after the ribbon cutting, I accompanied them as they explored all the downtown shops and restaurants.
As a guy who usually treats a shopping trip like I’m changing tires for the Daytona 500, I learned a lot by spending time with a group of women who live for the experience of shopping. Seeing the magic of Downtown Findlay through their eyes, I really grew to appreciate how much we have to offer here. Here are a few things I learned that day:
6. It’s a bonding experience for the non-shoppers
Being a non-shopper in a group of shopping enthusiasts can be a lonely experience. When at a mall, the non-shopper plops down in the first empty bench they find and stare blankly into the distance. Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence” plays gently in their heads as they ponder every decision they made in life that brought them to this moment in time. As a general rule, non-shoppers never talk to each other. Never make eye contact. Never, ever chat with each other. Being a non-shopper is a solitary experience.
That day as my group visited at The Dressing Room Boutique, I sat down in their little faux living room area. While there, I was joined by other husbands taking a break while their wives shopped around. How crazy! I’m not sure if it was the comfortable environment or the general jovial attitude that surrounded the store, but within a few minutes, I found myself getting into a conversation with my fellow weary travelers.
Also unlike shopping in malls, when you shop Downtown Findlay, it makes more sense for the non-shoppers to tag along into each store. I loved seeing my new non-shopper friends again and again throughout the day. I found a brotherhood, compatriots with whom I could share the experience.
5. These shops know their target audiences
Close your eyes and picture a store made to cater specifically to your individual tastes. For me, that shop would sell cookies from Great American Cookies and discounted movie props from Back to the Future. For my sister and my mom, that shop is The Dressing Room Boutique. I swear, that shop was designed to serve only fashion-forward ladies in their mid-twenties and their fashion-forward moms. It’s the perfect place for these mother-daughter duos to shop together. It was fun to watch my mom and sister hold items up and then collectively imagine the perfect event where they could wear it.
With each new stop along the way, I was reminded how perfectly these shops know their demographics. I still have yet to find a store that has a target demographic of a 6’6”, unathletic, movie-loving, toy-collecting, father-of-one, but at the rate Main Street is developing, I can only assume it’s planned for construction next year.
4. Soap is perfect gift you never knew about
I think at many men have struggled with what to get our significant others on special occasions. And ladies, it’s really not for a lack of trying. The problem is that we probably try too hard. That’s why we end up giving you Dr. Scholl’s sole inserts for your birthday. You said your back hurts when you stand too long. See? We listened!
What most husbands misunderstand is that our wives are looking for gifts that are: 1) thoughtful; and 2) unexpected. It’s in this line of thinking that RooBarb Studios and Rieck’s Gallery exists. They specialize in gifts that are both thoughtful and unique, which means you can literally just stick out your hand and wave it around. The first thing you hit will be a perfect gift. (Note: This exercise is best done when you’re the only customer in the store.)
My shopping group really gravitated to the soap selections. Soaps are amazing. I have no idea why this never dawned on me – it really is the perfect gift. Everyone needs to bathe, everyone likes smelling good, and everyone appreciates something handcrafted. Soap checks all those boxes. If you’re hunting for that perfect Christmas gift, you still have plenty of time to buy soap from Downtown Findlay. Don’t even finish this article. Go now.
3. There’s a great snack break every block
As the non-shopper in our group, it was my job to remind everyone how long it had been since the last time we ate. You see, I measure my life units of “between meals.” My meetings at work revolve around meal time. Our vacations are planned by meals first. When I shop, I’m only complacent as long as I’m not hungry.
Thank goodness Downtown Findlay has restaurants on every block. I never noticed that before. I mean, I knew we had a good number of restaurants, but I never realized how perfectly distributed they are along Main Street. What’s more, they cater to anyone’s preferences.
When you’re in a group, picking a restaurant is literally the worst exercise in human existence. “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t really care – whatever you want sounds good.” “How about pizza?” “Nah, I just had pizza. But really, I don’t care.” And it keeps going like that until you either lose all your friends or the rapture happens.
That is, of course, unless you’re on Main Street in Findlay. Thanks to a variety of convenient takeout options, when we were all shopping downtown, we were each able to get something that suited our tastes – everything from coffee, to cookies, to pizza, to burgers, to subs. Each time I felt cranky, I just darted into a restaurant and grabbed a snack. My shopping companions did the same, which is probably why we had such high spirits all day.
2. It’s a tour for all your senses
With a population roughly 0.005% that of New York City, you wouldn’t expect Findlay to have much in common with the Big Apple. Every time I’ve visited NYC, I always notice how it engages all my senses. I noticed the exact same thing in Downtown Findlay.
Downtown Findlay looks great! It’s clean, friendly, inviting. All of the shops and restaurants have a quaint hometown feel. Even on a dreary day, our local business owners work hard to make sure everything in their control maintains their signature cheery disposition. That’s helped by sounds piped out through speakers everywhere you go – sidewalks, stores, restaurants – they’re all playing an eclectic mix of music. All the shops have their inventory out in the open, from the softest fabric you’ll ever feel at The Shimmery Belle Boutique to guitars you can actually play at Guitar Ranch. You can smell the fragrances at RooBarb. And of course, you can taste the amazing food – some stores even offer snacks for customers!
1. You never need to go anywhere else for the perfect gift
As we wrapped up our shopping excursion, my sister (who lives more than two hours away) said that all she wants for Christmas is a gift card to literally any of the stores downtown. If that’s not the most glowing endorsement for the quality of the shops we have here, then I don’t know what is.
So there you have it. If you’re looking for a way to spend a free evening or find the perfect gift, look no further than our own Downtown Findlay.