Skip to Main Content

 View All News

Release Date: May 5,2024

University of Akron Students Launch a ‘Zips Guide to Shopping Small & Local in Akron’ with Community Partner Downtown Akron Partnership

The holiday shopping guide takes an in-depth look at the stories behind some of Akron’s small businesses, offering a digital magazine-like experience for shoppers and a resource for media.

AKRON, Ohio – Nov. 22, 2023 – University of Akron students are launching the ‘Zips Guide to Shopping Small & Local in Akron” as Small Business Saturday and Artist Sunday approach. The guide offers in-depth features on small businesses and artists in downtown Akron, with an emphasis on creative gifting ideas and gifts that make an impact. The guide is also intended to be used as a resource for media.

“Shopping local is a key component to a vibrant downtown neighborhood," Dominic Caruso, Downtown Akron Partnership communications director, said. “All of the retail opportunities in downtown Akron have raised the level of what you can do when you visit, and it's just going to continue to grow—there's so much potential for more, more commerce, more people living downtown. It all raises the quality of life in the downtown neighborhood.”

The features in the shopping guide were written by University of Akron students, who explored and downtown’s small business and artist scene as part of their community-engaged Public Relations Writing course. The assignment was intended to help them practice interviewing and story development skills. It is part of a larger community partnership between the course and Downtown Akron Partnership.

“Helping create this guide for community members has been a very valuable academic experience,” Anthony Nichols, a University of Akron public relations major, said. “Working on this project has created a real sense of accomplishment and knowledge that my hard work is being used for something useful.”

The businesses highlighted in the holiday shopping guide were selected by the students, with the only requirement being that they be in downtown Akron. The students bring their Gen-Z perspective but considered gifting for people of all walks of life in their recommendations. For a full list of downtown’s small businesses, visit

The students urge everyone in Northeast Ohio to consider shopping small and local this holiday season. Shopping in your own backyard boosts the local economy and helps small businesses not only survive but thrive. The students strategy for the holiday guide is “behind every great gift is a great story,” and the guide emphasizes the value of having a connection to the community behind each gift and the impact of giving.

The community engaged class also created the guide with media outlets in mind. The guide is intended to function as a collection of feature news releases and media have permission to use the quotes, text, and even complete stories. When a substantial piece of student writing is utilized, a student byline or co-byline will help the student build a professional portfolio. Photos and contact information for business owners can be obtained by reaching out to course instructor Julie Cajigas, Professor of Practice in The University of Akron School of Communication at

About Downtown Akron Partnership
Downtown Akron Partnership is a 501(c)3, non-profit organization that was originally founded in 1996. Ever since then, DAP has had a mission of enhancing the downtown environment by supporting the existing community and developing new, innovative programs designed to create interest in and attract people to the community of downtown Akron. Downtown Akron Partnership is run by a diverse board of directors that has Akron’s best interest at heart.


*This news release was created by University of Akron student Anthony Nichols as part of their Public Relations Writing Course.