On the surface, Findlay and the greater Hancock County region may look like any other small community in the Midwest. After all, we have people, businesses, buildings…what else does a community really need? If you’re content being average – then nothing. But Findlay is definitely not average.
I’ve lived in other communities, and I can tell you firsthand that Findlay is special. True, you might find one or two of the items on this list elsewhere, but you’ll never find a community with all of them. Welcome to Findlay, Ohio.
1. Waves from strangers
Findlay loves waving. It’s true! Test this out – I want you to walk outside, hold out your hand like you’re hailing a taxi and see what happens. You’ll make 13 new friends. Go ahead, try it! I’ll wait.
Welcome back! See, wasn’t that fun? No matter the mood and no matter the environment, Findlay-ites will always give you a wave. And if their arms are full, you can always count on a solid head nod.
2. Small bikes
This one is truly bizarre and something I noticed my first day in Findlay. Teenagers ride little bikes. I don’t really have anything insightful here, and I’ve never interviewed one of these riders, but it’s definitely a trend I’ve never seen anywhere else. And to clarify, these aren’t miniature stunt bikes or comically little, they’re just child-sized bikes, usually with pegs attached for tricks (though I’ve never seen one performed).
Maybe they take really good care of their bikes, so they’ve never needed to upgrade. Or maybe they’ve never visited Muddy River Bicycle Co. to learn the proper technique involved in bicycle riding. Whatever the case, the trend continues exactly as it has for the 19 years I’ve lived here.
3. Aggressive mall walkers
Despite the decline in retail at the Findlay Village Mall, it’s far from a ghost town. Between the anchor stores, the Findlay Children’s Museum and the AMAZING Great American Cookie Company (don’t get me started), there’s still a decent crowd giving life to the mall. Approach it with caution, however, because there’s a hidden danger.
A newcomer will learn this the hard way. There’s a hidden track inside the mall, and it’s primarily occupied by a specific group of people known as “mall walkers.” They have the distance and time it takes to circle the mall calculated with a precision you’d only find at NASA. They follow a set path each day, and Heaven help you if you accidentally walk in it. They’ll run you clean over before they’d even consider taking a step outside of their route. You’ve been warned.
4. Spiteful boredom
To those who cast a melancholy gaze up at the moonlit sky, spending their last wish on a more eventful life beyond the confines of our small town here in “boring Findlay,” I will say just one thing: take a look around you. Hancock County is filled with more activity than it gets credit. Not only is the community calendar completely full (check it out!), but we are fortunate to have movie theaters, bowling alleys, disc golf courses, swimming pools, miniature golf courses, gun ranges, archery parks, concert venues, a performing arts center, yada, yada, and yada. The list is so long, I actually got tired of typing.
The point is, we are fortunate to have so many activities right here in this county. If we want anything outside of the norm, we’re less than two hours away from several larger cities. Anyone complaining that they’re bored is doing so completely out of spite. With so much to do here, boredom is a choice.
5. More jobs than workers
Full disclaimer: I do not represent Economic Development, nor do I have a degree in economics. What I do have are friends who own businesses or otherwise manage commercial operations in Hancock County. Our community is growing by leaps and bounds – so much so that there are fewer workers than jobs available. And these are great jobs too. Anyone looking for employment can usually end their search here.
6. Many, many awesome restaurants
Food. If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a blog post about food is worth 10,000 salivary glands. It’s no surprise that our restaurant scene is, to say the least, vibrant. Findlay is actually nationally recognized. Did you know that? In 2013, we ranked No. 2 in Nielsen’s annual Restaurant Growth Index, which measures the number of restaurants per capita compared to sales as a percentage of capita income. In 2015 (the last report available), we were still ranked in the top 75th percentile. Basically, this means we’re an active foodie culture who can ensure a restaurant’s success.
That success is evident by the sheer volume of restaurants here, as well as their diversity. Alongside traditional chain favorites, we also have small bistros and amazing steakhouses. With a blend of corporately-owned locations, franchised privately-owned restaurants and locally-owned spots, the struggle to answer the question, “Where should we eat?” comes not from having too few choices, but too many.
When my friend moved to Findlay, she witnessed the most amazing sunset the first night in her new house. She and her husband pulled out the camera, spending the next half hour documenting each stage. The next night, the sunset was even more brilliant. Again, the camera comes out and again they document each stage. The next night – guess what? – another brilliant sunset. She looks at her husband and says, “So I guess this is just what evenings look like here.”
People from this area tend to think a Hancock County sunset is just like any other, but I can tell you definitively that it’s not. Thanks to our proximity to the Great Lakes and sprawling lands of the Midwest, the varying humidity in this region creates a rich and unpredictable cloud cover, a perfect canvas on which to project the brilliant colors radiating from a fading sun. Our flat geography encourages the sun to shine well past the visible horizon. The result? A long-lasting array of saturated reds, oranges and yellows painting the sky above us. I’ve made it a hobby to collect sunsets, so to speak, taking pictures whenever I can. True, they happen every night, but each one is as different as a snowflake, available once and then gone forever. If you aren’t taking time to witness this natural beauty, then you’re missing out on one of the best benefits of living here.