Have yourself a free afternoon?
You would be well advised to spend it strolling through Chagrin Falls shops and enjoying the atmosphere of a quaint yet dynamic village. You’ll find independent boutiques run by proud purveyors mixed among desirable dining destinations operated by creative culinary entrepreneurs.
The individualistic and historic storefronts include a local bookseller, an old-tie popcorn and ice cream shop, and a wide variety of clothiers. Stop for lunch (or a sweet treat) and watch the falls rush into a serene Chagrin River – now take a moment and breathe it in.
There are numerous unique places to explore in the old-fashioned downtown district of Chagrin Falls, but here is a snapshot of a few special stops you might try that are just minutes away from South Franklin Circle.
Toni is a comfortable, appealing women’s clothing shop, whether you’re looking for a special jacket, blouse or sweater, or simply want to see what’s new in fashion.
“There is always a feeling of welcome,” says owner Toni Hadad. She has been dressing women for every occasion imaginable for 32 years. Generations can shop together here, where you’ll find on-trend pieces that both young and mature women can add to their wardrobes.
The men like to visit the shop, too, Hadad says. “They often say, ‘I love everything in here. I can see why my wife shops here.’”
This season, florals and lace are on the scene. There are numerous ways to wear these fashions. But shoppers appreciate more than the quality, fine clothing there. “Our style and service keep women coming back,” Hadad says.
Hadad knows she’s making a positive impact when her customers return to share how “perfect” a garment was for an event, or every day. “Women will come in and say, ‘Do you remember when I bought this outfit years ago? I still get so many compliments on it!’”
That, to Hadad, is the ultimate compliment to her business. Her piece of advice for dressing any woman: “If you dress old, you look old. If you dress on trend, you keep them guessing.”
Toni is located at 17 N. Franklin Street, just five minutes from South Franklin Circle.
The Popcorn Shop at 53 Main Street is a Chagrin Falls tradition. People who grew up enjoying the homemade, popped treat return with their children. Visitors from across town, and across the country, remark on the old-fashioned feel. George W. Bush even made a stop here with his wife and daughters during a re-election campaign.
“Our tagline is, ‘The way things used to be,’” says Dewey Forward, proprietor of the shop. “And that is what people find here and what they appreciate. It’s still a mom-and-pop shop.”
The Popcorn Shop has a storied history in Chagrin Falls. It opened in 1875 as a retail flour store connected to a hydro-powered flour mill to showcase “The Pride of the Falls” groceries. It included a water wheel-driven gristmill that was powered by the Chagrin River.
Then in 1949, Dorothy McClennan opened the Popcorn Shop. For decades the shop thrived as a quintessential treat for locals and guests. But in 2000, a van crashed into the shop and caused significant structural damage, and the shop closed. In 2001, Forward noticed the landmark was out of business and he inquired about purchasing the property.
“The shop was sort of dangling over the falls,” he says of its condition. It had been knocked off its mooring and was virtually condemned. Forward invested in the rebuilding of the shop, from the foundation up.
The Popcorn Shop soon opened again for business, maintaining a reverence for its historic roots while serving some edgy new popcorn flavors that keep guests wondering, “What’s next?”
The top seller is caramel corn, and customers love the premium ice cream that is sourced from North Ridgeville-based Country Parlor. “We get our product from local vendors,” Forward says.
The popcorn is made from organic corn, and it’s non-GMO (and gluten-free, as popcorn is). Fresh, innovative ingredients are combined to create exciting flavors, such as sriricha cheese. Chrissy Corn, named after Forward’s sister, is a pink popcorn with organic cranberry “craisins.” Its proceeds support The Gathering Place, a cancer support organization.
The newest release is Cleveland Art Pop, which is produced in conjunction with Cleveland Museum of Art to celebrate their 100th anniversary. The specialty corn includes Italian herbs and olive oil for a sophisticated taste.
As for Forward’s favorite? Natural cheese popcorn. “It tastes like cheese corn should taste,” he says.
For more than 50 years, Fireside Book Shop has been helping people find just the right book. Its three floors include new and used titles, and lots of nooks and crannies of books for customers to explore. It’s not your typical bookseller, and that’s what people like about Fireside in an age of “big box” book companies.
Phil Barress, manager, has worked at the shop for 30 years and says the people make the difference at Fireside. “People appreciate the old bookstore atmosphere—the floors creak, and aside from books we sell a host of items,” he says. Those include jigsaw puzzles, journals, notecards, coffee mugs and calendars.
Fireside is an ideal spot to find a little gift or the latest bestseller. The establishment is a much loved destination. “We have a loyal following, and we get generations of customers, some who have moved away and come back to visit and bring their children,” Barress says.
Fireside has been a staple in downtown Chagrin Falls since the 1960s, and committed customers who support their local bookseller make the shop thrive, Barress says.
There’s so much to see, taste, try on and take home from the village of Chagrin Falls, which is minutes from South Franklin Circle. Go into town for an hour, or make it a day. Learn more about this location and all of the amenities within easy reach.