Rethink Your Ride Sponsor Spotlight: Ben Franklin & MindFair Books

Ben Franklin PicI was walking toward Ben Franklin and noticed that I was 20 minutes late according to the downtown clock as a result of another interview.  I underestimated the enthusiasm of business owners to want to talk to me about their business. I quickly rushed in to Ben Franklin and asked for Krista who was already standing there appearing to be a bit out of breath herself.  She said she had also rushed thinking that she was late for her appointment with me.  This is the camaraderie that takes place in Oberlin when a person spends time shopping in downtown and involved with community events.

Krista told me that each Ben Franklin store is independently owned so the setup and displays are different.  There are some Ben Franklin stores that have turned into a craft store so many younger people are surprised to learn that the Ben Franklin in Oberlin is a variety store filled with books (new & used), office supplies, health & beauty items, household goods, fabric, custom framing, fair trade gift items, snacks,  and candy.  Krista says that her store is ever evolving to adapt to the needs of her customers, which is the reason people should visit often.

I asked Krista how she became the owner of Ben Franklin and MindFair Book store.  She said that she had been a bookseller all her life and had been working at NASCORP for about 10 years when she was laid off in 1999.  While considering leaving the area to pursue other book industry jobs, she said it just didn’t feel right to be leaving Oberlin.  Since the Co-op Bookstore had closed, she realized there was an opportunity for a new bookstore, selling used books this time and so decided to start one—MindFair Books.  It was on S. Main Street where Lupita’s is now.  Not long after, she learned that Ben Franklin was up for sale and worked with the Cochrane family to purchase it.  The combination of variety store and books seemed a natural. 

One of the treasured items that tourists love about Ben Franklin in Oberlin is the selection of Melissa and Doug toys.  It can be a challenge to find non-battery operated and durable toys at big box stores. Another unique characteristic about Ben Franklin is the fantastic fabric and yarn shop.  Last year I also learned that Ben Franklin has a custom frame shop.  My fiancé and I drove all the way to Avon to get some picture framed because at the time I didn’t know where else to go.  So as a result, when I needed pictures at the Oberlin Project framed I made sure to get it done locally at Ben Franklin.  MindFair inside of Ben Franklin is also one of the few independent bookstores left in Ohio.  A person can buy just about any book desired.  Also her store is wheelchair accessible and she even allows dogs in her store!

Krista says the places she likes to shop in Oberlin include Ben Franklin (go figure), Ginko Gallery, Watson’s Hardware, Bead Paradise and Oberlin IGA.  She also loves to eat in Oberlin and spreads the love all around.  A few of the places she rattled off were Black River Cafe, Tooo Chinoise, Weia Teia, Agave, The Feve, Lupita’s Mexican Restaurant, Lorenzo’s Pizza, and Magpie Pizza.

From this interview you have learned that Ben Franklin is an original “variety” store with quality, fair trade, and sustainable/natural items.   Also, when you spend money with a local merchant like Ben Franklin the money is spent with other local businesses and the money spent is circulated again in our local economy! As a result of her living in Oberlin and owning a variety store that also sells books, she truly believes that she offers superior service to that of the big box stores and from my personal experience I agree.

(picture above from Ben Franklin Oberlin website)

Ben Franklin & MindFair Books
Owner:  Krista Long
13 West College Street
Oberlin, Ohio 44074
Phone:  774-5711
EmailBenFranklin@oberlin.net or MindFair@oberlin.net

Store hours
Monday - Thursday: 10am–6pm
Friday: 10am–8pm
Saturday: 10am–6pm
Sunday: 12pm–5pm

 

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Sharon Pearson is the Program Coordinator for the Oberlin Project and liaison to the Transportation Working Group. Sharon will complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Green and Sustainable Enterprise Management by the end of 2013. She was born and raised in Oberlin and worked for Oberlin City Hall for 25 years. Currently she and her fiancé are moving back to Oberlin so they can take advantage of the various low-carbon transportation methods available including walking, biking, car-sharing, ridesharing while actively being involved in the Oberlin community.

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Guest March 15, 2017

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Sharon Pearson
Sharon Pearson is the Program Coordinator for the Oberlin Project and liaison to
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