The Big Idea | Akron Public Market

Name: Melissa Olson
Age: 29
Hometown/Home now: State College, PA/Kent, OH
Occupation: Graphic Designer/Photographer


Name: Cory Sheldon
Age: 38
Hometown/Home now: Stow, OH/Streetsboro, OH
Occupation: Filmmaker/Professor


What’s your Big Idea?

We want to help build a year-round, public market for Akron that operates daily. Bringing the people of Akron together, in the middle of the city, to create and enjoy the food we love while learning each other’s stories and building a more vibrant and unified community.


Why pursue it?

We want to help connect the greater community of the region to the vibrant collection of chefs, gardeners, food vendors and craftspeople of Akron. We want to provide an opportunity for those who grow food to connect with those who prepare and serve. Creating a central space where Akron’s various communities can connect with each other would help unify the neighborhoods of Akron through meals and shared experience.

The Market would foster collaboration and education in the community through food: a central component of daily life. Markets foster neighborly feelings and pride in the cities where they exist.


When did you know your Big Idea was a good idea?

We visited the North Market in Columbus the day after Thanksgiving last year and realized Akron would benefit from a market of our own in downtown. We have friends working on growing local pop-up style marketplaces, continuing community gardening projects and helping refugees get re-settled in Akron. We think a market would be a great place to bring all of these efforts (and more) together into a central, daily marketplace. In neighborhoods with established public markets, there has been a proven benefit to both pop-up style shops as well as near-by established businesses through an increase in foot-traffic.


How do you hope your Big Idea helps Akron grow?

We hope a public market for Akron would help foster conversation and relationship between otherwise unlikely acquaintances. We want to increase food awareness in Akron Public Schools, give opportunities to entrepreneurs and refugees, and generate increased activity in the downtown corridor. The Akron Public Market would be a focal point to act as a springboard for the already happening revitalization of Downtown Akron.