Best shopping in Kent


Matthew Brown

Off the Wagon, located in downtown Kent’s Acorn Alley, offers “weird, funny gag gifts” for the young at heart.

Isabella Schreck, Reporter

FIRST: Off the Wagon

Less than a mile away in Acorn Alley, Off the Wagon appeals to the young at heart with its “weird, funny, gag gifts,” as described on its website.

Donut flavored jelly beans, candy cigarettes, Pop Rocks and sour boogers offer college kids fun and tasty late-night snacks, while bacon and cheese flavored crickets threaten to test even the most adventurous eaters. 

Under its “funny gifts” category online, Off the Wagon has creative items that are guaranteed to bring a laugh to whoever receives them. 

Themes under the category include “stupid stuff,” “cheap stuff” and “bigfoots and sloths,” so if a friend’s birthday is coming up, Off the Wagon should be at the top of your list of stores to check out. 

Childhood favorite games like “Spot It” and newer games like “Kazoo That Tune” and “Burger Bear Bonanza” are also sold on shelves, along with different versions of classic games like invisible playing cards to liven up a Friday night hangout. 

“We really do have something for everyone,” manager Annie Carver said. “I love getting gifts here for my friends and family. It’s a great place to come look around and get some laughs. You’ll definitely leave in a better mood than when you walked in.”

SECOND: Last Exit Books

With jazz music playing in the background and the smell of fresh roasted coffee in the air, you can spend hours browsing through all of the books, CDs, DVDs and records that Last Exit Books has on its shelves. 

The shop buys and sells its merchandise, so there are plenty of unique finds that will not be at one of your chain bookstores. Connected to the book section is a coffee house with locally-sourced coffee and treats named after books and songs.“Lavenders for Algernon” was a lavender-infused steamer on the menu last week. 

“Last Exit Books is a hidden gem,” owner Jason Merlene said. “There are not too many places that have books, coffee and music all in one place. It is great to support small businesses, and we have books, coffee, records and more all in one place and for great prices.”

A few stairs up is where the DVDs, CDs, records, T-shirts and other decor and items are sold. Open mic nights for poetry and scheduled readings are also held in this section of the store. 

The barista at Last Exit makes an espresso shot for a customer’s coffee drink. (Sophia Lucente)

Last Exit is right off Main St., so relaxing while reading a book and sipping coffee is only a few minutes walk away from campus.

THIRD (TIE): Blue and Gold Fanstore

To show off school pride at Dix Stadium for football games or buy a cute sweatshirt to represent Kent State when you at home for spring break, Blue and Gold Fanstore, formerly called Universitees, is the place to find unique Kent State shirts, sweatpants and accessories. 

Aside from Blue and Gold’s great products, floor manager Damien Hampton said the store’s customer service makes it stand out from other school-pride shops.

“Our customer service is number one,” Hampton said. “I’d rather talk to a customer than sell something. When customers come in, I make conversation with every person.”

THIRD (TIE): Red Letter Days

Red Letter Days is connected to Off the Wagon on Main Street in Acorn Alley.

Featuring aesthetic stationary, cute stuffed animals, socks and oven mitts with funny- and sometimes explicit- sayings on them, Red Letter Days has every kind of gift option for a friend or family member, or even for yourself.

It has items to appeal to nature lovers, with succulent note cards and posters labeling different kinds of trees and flowers. For artists, they have dozens of colorful pen packs and journals.

There are loads of stickers to decorate your computer with, and unique wrapping papers and greeting cards to wrap up those gifts.

Greeting cards are just one of many eclectic items for sale at Red Letter Days,. (Matthew Br

Isabella Schreck is a reporter. Contact her at [email protected]