Archive for the ‘Medina activities’ Category


Old Navy departure leaves big void in Medina

Posted by Jennifer

I was shocked the other night to see “news” on Facebook that Old Navy, Marshall’s and Bath and Body Works were closing their doors in Medina.

Thankfully, that post was only partly true — but confirmation from Mayor Dennis Hanwell that, of those three, only Old Navy is indeed shuttering its Medina location on Friday was not good news for our city.

Old Navy’s departure is part of a larger problem stemming from the big, gaping hole that is the former Kmart building just across the dirty parking lot.

When Kmart opened there in 1991, it was hailed as the first “Super Kmart” in the country because it had groceries as well as household items. Even Sam Walton supposedly visited, then opened a competing Walmart across the street. As the store lost profitability, it was scaled back to a regular Kmart (no groceries) in 2011. Since it closed in 2012, all 151,000 square feet of this mammoth carcass have been left to decay in what used to be the city’s center of “modern” retail.

Residents have watched and waited for what new retailer would come along to transform the space. Menard’s was rumored to be interested, as “for lease” signs disappeared from the storefront. A temporary Halloween store occupied part of the otherwise vacant space for a few weeks each fall. And yet, nothing more happened.

Although he was unaware of the news before my email Monday night, Mayor Hanwell responded immediately, explaining to me that Kmart pulled out of our city with several years left on its lease. It continues to pay rent to Benderson Development Co., which manages the property through its Buffalo, N.Y., location, even though the place sits empty.

“We have sent numerous leads to Benderson, but they are not even interested in showing [the] building as they still get the rent checks each month from Kmart,” the mayor says. “It is quite frustrating.”

He went on to explain that Old Navy and the other retailers in the adjacent plaza have a clause in their contracts that if the anchor store(which was Kmart) leaves, they get either reduced rent or can their vacate lease. On Tuesday morning, he confirmed that Marshall’s was not closing, but had not yet heard from Bath and Body Works. I also wonder about the remaining tenants: Dress Barn, Shoe Carnival and Sally’s Beauty Supply.

I don’t blame Old Navy and other retailers in the adjacent plazas for getting weary of that huge eyesore. I would argue that in the almost 14 years we’ve lived in Medina, Old Navy has behaved more like the anchor of that plaza, seemingly attracting more shoppers than Kmart. Quite honestly, a huge percentage of my family’s clothing that I have bought new has come from that store. (Those of you who know me well know that I take good advantage of thrift stores and garage sales.) Of course, we often wait for deep clearance prices, so we probably haven’t contributed much to the store’s profitability. But I digress.

It is disheartening that an out-of-state management company is content to let the building sit vacant as long as it collects its rent checks from Kmart. One might argue that the lingering vacancy is merely a symptom of a struggling economy, with no one particularly at fault, but it is hard to think Benderson is doing everything possible to fill that space if it has ignored prompts from the city.

Or, does Kmart want to hold onto that property with an eye toward possibly returning one day? Is it trying to block Walmart from adding, say, a Sam’s Club? You know, the old “I-don’t-want-it-but-you-can’t-have-it” strategy that has frustrated other communities like Painesville Township and Willoughby.

In any case, the departure of Old Navy from the city of Medina should be a significant red flag for Medina-area development officials. The store was more than just a place to buy affordable clothing; I would call its styles “family-friendly hip” — cute and trendy, but not over-the-top edgy or expensive — that could well describe the character of our city. Does its departure mean something more than the loss of just one more tax-paying retailer?

One of the things we have always loved about Medina is that it seemed to have everything we could need. From a retail perspective, being able to say “we have an Old Navy” was as important as being able to say “we have a Target, a Walmart and a Home Depot.” I would argue that Marshall’s is another destination retailer that I am glad we have nearby.

I hope that this Friday’s closure lights a fire under our city officials to find a way to fix this blight along North Court Street. Maintaining a healthy retail segment in that portion of our community is every bit as important as keeping storefronts occupied around the square, and deserves at least that much attention.


The Journey

Posted by Jennifer

Lent is supposed to be a time for reflection and contemplation.

In our house, it is also a busy time that far too often makes it hard to focus on the spiritual side of our lives. There’s always a sports obligation or a class project looming that can occupy everything from a day to an entire evening.

Just this past week, we have had the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima statue in our house. The 2-foot statue is passed each week from household to household at St. Francis Xavier, prompting special times of prayer and meditation on her — and thus, our — relationship with Jesus. We usually try to reserve it for this time of year to mark the March 5 passing of my mother.

I wish I could say we have spent a week in solemn prayer, but that simply hasn’t been the case. The usual chaos has ensued with five kids, jobs and a birthday thrown in the mix.

I must say she has offered a peaceful presence in house. It is nice to see her in our dining room, which usually is the dumping ground for all the kids’ book bags, even though we ask them constantly to take them to their rooms.

Our oldest son, who sometimes can be the source of grumblings in the house, even reminded my husband to pipe down in front of her. The fact that Junior had the presence to be respectful is proof miracles can happen.

For those looking for other ways to mark the solemn season, there is an event this weekend that might help you along.

The Passion play “Tetelestai” will be presented Friday, Saturday and Sunday at Remsen Christian Church, 1500 Remsen Road. The musical, which was written by a couple of Ohio guys and is produced in Cleveland, marks the last week of Jesus’ life.

The musical is free, with a free-will offering, and will be put on at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday. It’s generally joyful and upbeat until, well, you know how the story goes. I usually find myself wiping away tears. It’s got a great ending, though!

We’ve seen it numerous times over the years and enjoy it every time. It’s definitely suitable for families (and many families are in it), and I find myself humming the music long after the show ends. If you’re not familiar with it or want to see the rest of this season’s schedule, check out


Buy, sell in local, year ’round online garage sales

Posted by Jennifer

If you’re having trouble integrating the new Christmas toys and clothing into your closets, it might be time to weed out the old things that your child has outgrown.

In the past, such closet clean-outs might have meant a trip to Goodwill or another charity, or you might have stowed boxes for a garage sale when the weather warms up in May or June.

Thanks to Facebook, we now have another option: online garage sales. Here in Medina County, we have at least two — Medina Moms Sell It and Medina, Ohio Online Garage Sale. A third site, Everything FREE Site, popped up last week exclusively to give away things for free.

This isn’t like Craig’s List. Well, it might be a little like Craig’s List. In both cases you are posting used or new items for sale (or free) and making arrangements online.

However, most of the items on these sites are smaller (such as one shirt) and child-related — equipment, toys, books, clothing and such. But there also are household items — televisions, vases, adult clothing and shoes, even automobiles.

Each group is closed, but Facebook users can ask to be added to each group. Once you’re a member, you can post pictures displaying what you have for sale, along with any details and a price. At least on the Medina Moms Sell It site, the sale of gift cards and store balances is prohibited, and sellers are strongly discouraged from “flipping” items they bought for less elsewhere with the intention of selling for their retail value (this became a minor issue after Black Friday).

If you’re interested in an item someone posts, you add a comment. The right to purchase the item goes to buyers in the order they comment. Then, buyer and seller make arrangements to meet at a mutually convenient place in Medina County — often, the Target or McDonald’s parking lots.

You also can indicate that you’re looking for a certain item. In fact, that’s how I made my first transaction: The morning of our first big snowfall last month, someone posted that she was looking for size 11 boys snow boots. Having just taken them out of the closet because my youngest had outgrown them, I commented that I had a pair. She asked to see a picture, which I posted along with a price: $3. Later that day, we met in the Walmart parking lot.

She was happy to have boots for her son. I was happy to have $3 — which was probably twice what I would have gotten at a future garage sale. AND I didn’t have to store them for six months.

Using the site isn’t complicated, but there’s a whole lingo I’ve had to learn:

ISO – In Search Of. For example, “ISO boys’ size 11 snow boots.”
NIL – Next In Line. A potential buyer might not be the first to express interest in an item, but he or she wants a chance to buy it if the person ahead of him or her doesn’t complete the deal. It’s not uncommon to see a popular item have five or 10 “nil” comments.
EUC – Excellent Used Condition. Most items on these sites are used. But as we moms all know, children quickly outgrow (or refuse to wear) clothing after the tags are removed and receipts long gone. They’re not new, but they may be nearly so.

I have found the Medina Moms Sell It site fairly addictive. Especially in the weeks leading up to Christmas, as sellers were eagerly cleaning out their homes to make some cash before the holidays and prepare for the new toys coming in. Buyers like me even found a gift item or two.

I’ve also found that you have to be pretty attentive — good items at great prices will not last. North Face jackets and Thirty-One bags were moving quickly in recent weeks.

The site was a godsend for me as three of my five kids started basketball practices last month and needed basketball shoes. A quick walk through Kohl’s to scout shoes sent my heart to my stomach, as I saw prices of $40 to $50 each. I really did not want to spend that much money on shoes they likely will wear one season before they outgrow them.

I decided to try the site.

“ISO size 3 boys’ basketball shoes,” I posted. Later, I tried again: “ISO basketball shoes, women’s size 9 or men’s size 7.”

Within minutes, both times, I had responses from other members. Within days, I had two pairs of Nike shoes in hand. My daughter accompanied me to her seller’s home, where she tried them on and chose from two pair available.

We were thrilled! I spent $8 on one pair and $10 on the other — a fraction of what I would have spent buying new shoes and they are perfectly good. And, I didn’t have to scour neighborhoods and thrift stores looking for exactly the right thing.

Now that I’ve had a taste of buying and selling this way, nothing in my home is safe. I now look around the house and think, do we really need that end table? We haven’t used the treadmill for awhile. What about that second coat hanging in the closet? Toys still in the box that seemed like a good idea after Christmas last year — out of here!

This probably won’t replace having a garage sale this summer; it’s a little tedious to take a picture of each item I might want to sell and post it. But, there’s something very rewarding about being able to help a fellow area mom who needs something and, like me, is trying to save a little money. And it’s a great feeling to have a little more cash in hand for something we no longer needed.

It’s also good incentive for my kids to put away the new things they just got for Christmas. If, one day, something turns up missing. . . they might know why I splurged on Starbucks that day.


Why did the chicken cross the road? To embarrass his son, of course!

Posted by Jennifer

I’m not sure we should take it as a compliment.

Our oldest son can quickly pick out his parents — rather, his nutty dad — out in a crowd.

The latest outward show of love came last weekend when the Medina Marching Bees took off for state marching band competitions in Columbus. This is all new to us as our son is a freshman.

A cool tradition is that the police escort the buses of band members, Beeliners, directors, Beekeepers and instruments out of town, with the parents, students and band fans lining the Square to see them off.

We all made signs to encourage and surprise the trombone player in the family. The tradition is kept a secret from the freshmen so they are surprised by the show of support.

So, as the caravan of buses made its way onto the Square, someone in my son’s bus yelled, “Hey, there’s someone dressed like a giant chicken!” To which our son responded, “Uh oh…”

There were plenty of jokes while we waited. “I’m roasted in here,” Craig said to the delight of our little boys and slight amusement by his teenage daughters.

The chicken costume has been a special part of our family since I stumbled across it a few years back when Target’s Halloween costumes hit 90 percent off. Our friends at Hershey’s Barber Shop were so amused, they insisted that he stop in and poke his chicken head in the door to pose for a picture or two.

My husband, with his warped sense of humor, loves to break it out at Easter and wear it at egg hunts. “Which came first? The chicken or the egg?” he’ll yell then run off after the eggs.

The punchline? “The chicken!”

So there he stood on the corner in the Square last weekend with a sign urging our son not to be a chicken and win at state.

And win they did. For only the third time in school history, the Bees earned straight superiors.

While he might have been a little embarrassed, I’m sure our son was still a little proud to be a member of a family that welcomes a big chicken to its nest.


Indoor trick-or-treat events to celebrate the season

Posted by Jennifer

When my teenagers were little, I loved to spend weeks and weeks sewing or devising costumes for them.

One year I made an elaborate Glinda the Good Witch dress for a 4-year-old. Over the last 15 years, there also have been an American Indian girl, Cleopatra, two geishas, the Phantom of the Opera, Flash and a robot complete with silver-painted hair and face.

This year, I think we’ve got less work for me involved: my biggest challenge in the next two weeks is to find a tweed jacket for an 8-year-old 11th Doctor (from “Dr. Who”) and an orange ascot for the 5-year-old (to be “Fred” from “Scooby Doo”).

My teens are on their own. And yes, I tell them it’s fine to still trick-or-treat — as long as they make the effort to dress up. I don’t have much patience for kids who simply don a football jersey. If I’m going to give you candy, I want to see some creativity!

It always saddened me, though, that we go through all this work to find just the right costume, and then it’s all over in a 2-hour blur as they dash from house to house. In the dark, no less.

That’s why I was always scouting other Halloween events, especially indoor ones. The kids love the chance to wear their costumes again — or wear the “other” one they almost picked — and I feel somewhat vindicated that my hard work is not wasted.

Here in Medina we have a few good options.

* Giant Eagle on North Court Street in Medina will once again host its free Indoor Trick-or-Treat Scavenger Hunt. This year’s event is planned for Tuesday, Oct. 29, from 6 to 8 p.m. — a change from the usual Saturday event, which makes sense since the grocery is usually busy enough on a Saturday. This year, families are asked to sign up their children (ages 2 to 12) in advance at the Eagle’s Nest so they can plan the right number of treats.

Also new this year: Families will follow a clue list that will lead to each location, where they will pick up a puzzle piece. Once all the pieces are collected, they return to the cafe to put it together and receive a treat bag with candy, snack food and small prizes. The cafe also will have refreshments, raffles and a decorated background for pictures.

Costumes are encouraged (uh, yeah!) but not required.

* St. Francis Xavier Parish is hosting its parish Halloween Party in the gym on Saturday, Oct. 26. The event starts at 6:30 p.m.and will run through 8 p.m., with games, prizes, a costume contest and trick-or-treating. Parish families do not need to register, but they are asked to bring candy or treats to distribute on the trick-or-treat trail. For more information, see the parish bulletin.

Usually Buehler’s and WalMart have trick-or-treating in their stores the Saturday before Halloween — but I haven’t seen anything about them yet. Readers – can you help?


Worn-down grass around gazebo is Medina’s badge of honor

Posted by Jennifer

My neighbor Jeff takes such good care of his lawn. It looks simply picture-perfect all year long.

As much as we like his wife and him as neighbors and friends, I’m glad that we don’t live right next door, because our poor lawn would look even worse than it is by comparison.

I admire his lawn, I really do, but we don’t have the time, money or patience to invest in making our grass look so good.

We have impromptu wiffle ball games out there many nights, and a giant, inflatable, Cleveland Browns player (named “Tiny”) is quickly killing a little patch where his feet stand. The dog spends a good portion of her time out there, surveying the neighborhood and doing her part to make patchwork of the grass.

Jeff’s only child is away at college, and — although when she was younger she’d do cartwheels and toss a softball with her dad out there — their lawn never got near the abuse inflicted on ours by our five children and dog.

I’m thinking about all this after hearing about some of the terse conversations that have taken place between the City of Medina and vendors at the Medina Farmers Market.

Mind you, I didn’t hear them first hand. But, from what I understand, they go something like this:

City: We spend lots of time, money and effort to make the grass grow and look good, and you people keep trampling it down every week. You shouldn’t be here every week.

Vendors: We attract lots of shoppers from inside and outside Medina to come spend money in your city, and they rave about the charming market and attractive downtown. They linger and enjoy the restaurants and quaint shops, then they go home and tell their friends. Who cares if the grass gets trampled?

Of course there are other groups that use the park around the gazebo, but the farmers market vendors are there every week, standing in more or less the same 3-foot square, and they probably do wear that grass down more than the others.

I can sympathize with the city for not wanting to waste its time, money and effort to maintain the lawn. If it isn’t maintained, it quickly becomes a mud pit, and then no one wants to come to the park for pictures or anything else. What work they do put into it they certainly don’t want to see wasted the following weekend.

However — and I will issue my disclaimer that my father is very much involved as a vendor at the market — I think the city gains far more in word-of-mouth advertising and plain old good vibes by letting people occupy the grass.

Kicking people off the grass so it can grow just doesn’t make sense to me. It’s like keeping children out of the formal living room with the “good” furniture, or saving the “good” china for those infrequent special guests.

Worn-out spots of grass mean one thing to me: This is a park that people use and enjoy. People want to come and linger around the gazebo. They like meeting their friends for coffee or frozen yogurt, then browsing quirky shops for one-of-a-kind gifts. This is a good thing!

I’d bet there are many small towns that would give anything to have this problem. Towns where people scatter to the Wal-Marts and Best Buys and forget they can buy a greeting card and birthday gift right up the street. Towns that work hard to remind their residents that there’s a coffee shop that makes a brew to rival Starbucks.

Here, we have activities on the square just about every weekend. You can venture up there any Saturday during the late spring to early fall to pick up fresh fruits and vegetables, of course, but there also are art festivals, Shakespeare performances, all types of music, antique dealers and so much more. Each event brings people to our city who will invest a little of themselves here — and our community reaps the benefits many times over.

Worn-out grass is a good problem to have. It’s the small price you pay for a thriving town where people want to spend time together.

That’s why I’m not too worried about my lawn. My children are happy to play pick-up games of baseball there, and they cheer with excitement when Tiny gets inflated, even if the Browns aren’t playing or have a losing record (which, thankfully, they don’t!). If they’re running around outside, then they’re not glued to the television and video games, and that makes me happy.

So what if there are yellow patches or holes in the flower bed where a bored dog keeps digging? We do our best to keep it cut and trimmed. We fertilize the lawn when the Scott’s is on sale and we’ve got money to spare. We yank out the worst of the weeds and are thankful that at least they’re green.

The day will come soon enough when size 2 sneakers won’t be tearing off for first base or toeing into the dirt to mark the pitcher’s mound, when the crush of the bat against the ball will outgrow our city lot, and when they might be embarrassed by the Browns.

For now, we enjoy seeing that bit of grass getting trampled.

I hope the city will too.


Time to celebrate being a Bee

Posted by Jennifer

We are more than halfway through the season, and I have already attended more high school football games than I did my entire high school career.

To be fair, I attended an all-girls high school, so attending a football game was not on the top of my social calendar.

Our oldest son, Ryan, is a freshman member of the Medina Musical Bees, so we have had incentive to attend this year.

It’s funny, having had kids attend Catholic schools so far and Ryan being our first at Medina High School, my husband and I have commented that we had no idea there was so much Medina gear out there. We were sitting in a sea of green at last Friday’s night game in off-color clothing. I told my son that a Medina sweatshirt would be a nice idea for the next gift-giving occasion.

This weekend is Homecoming, and once again we will be in the stands. It is a special night for our son, because he was selected to be among the elite trombone players to do an intricate maneuver at halftime where they swing their instruments over each other’s heads. If all goes according to plan, it should be pretty cool to watch. If not, it might mean an emergency trip to both his orthodontist and Woodsy’s Music in town.

We’re praying for the former.

The festivities kick off at 6 p.m. in Medina’s Square, where the band, along with the homecoming court and other teams and elementary schools, will march enroute to the stadium. After the parade, you can attend a $5-a-plate spaghetti dinner at the high school.

The game against Strongsville starts at 7:30 p.m., with pregame activities beginning at 7:15.

And for the first time, fireworks, paid for by student groups, will be shot off at the end of the game.

Luke was excited to go until he heard about the fireworks — he still doesn’t like them. But, because there might be candy at the parade, he acquiesed. I’m sure this 5-year-old will be under a blanket at the end of the game.


A second chance in Medina to patronize food trucks

Posted by Jennifer

Volleyball games and a busy schedule kept us from the festivities at the International Fest on the Square on Saturday. It looks like we might have been in the minority, though!

My husband ventured up there around closing time to help my dad pack up his jams and jellies from his stand at the Medina Farmers Market, which stayed open till 7 p.m. (an extra six hours) as part of the festival. Dad said it was nonstop activity!

Even though the event was technically closed, my husband said some of the food trucks that were parked on the Square still had lines several people deep.

The trucks will make a return trip to Medina this week so you have a second chance for their interesting take on cuisine.

A Food Truck Round-Up will be held from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot of Sushi on the Roll, which also has its own food truck. The trucks will be parked at the restaurant, which is tucked off the access road between Dairy Queen and Target, officially at 985 Boardman Alley.

Nine trucks are slated to attend so far. They include: Sushi on the Roll, Zydeco Bistro, The Orange Truk, Stone Pelican, Rolling Pig BBQ, Krav, Wholly Frijoles, Pig Lickin’ Good BBQ and Chef Grey Wolf.

Event planners promise live music, too.

It should be a nice, mid-week chance for some interesting and no doubt healthier “fast” food for dinner — especially since it’s Curriculum Night at our kids’ school.


Food and fun this weekend in Medina

Posted by Jennifer

Saturday promises to be a busy day in Medina.

The annual International Festival will take residence along with the weekly Farmers Market in the Square.

It is always interesting to walk around and check out the various booths, music and entertainment. But the real highlight (for me!) is the food.

Groups and restaurants will be selling ethnic and gourmet dishes. It is also a day where food trucks are welcome to park on the Square and offer their unique takes on a variety of dishes.

I would suggest you arrive early as the lines are often very long and some of the dishes sell out.

Later in the afternoon, the Medina County Park District is opening its newest park.

The Carolyn Ludwig Mugrage Park on Windfall Road north of state Route 18 will be dedicated at 2 p.m. Naturalist-led hikes will be offered after the ceremony.

The park covers 104 acres and offers a paved trail, a sledding hill, nature trails, a catch-and-release fishing pond and a picnic area. Future improvements will include a dog park and a playground.

I’m looking forward to taking the kids there this winter, provided we finally get enough snow to do some actual sledding. Last winter my kids sledded on more mud than snow on the hills at Reagan Park; I’m not sure they minded so much, but they had to strip down for the ride home and I spent hours washing everything. Not fun!

Those days will be here before we know it. I suggest you head to the Square to grab some lunch, and then head out to the new park and enjoy one of the last sunny days of summer.


Another school year over. Where has the time gone…

Posted by Jennifer

Has it really been a year since we studied the summer list of movies to be shown for a buck at Regal Cinemas on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings?

The answer is yes, and it has been a year since the annual “dump,” as my husband likes to call it in our house.

Although bathroom humor ranks high among the Webb boys, this “dump” actually refers to the emptying of lockers, file folders, book bags of a year’s worth of papers onto our kitchen counter waiting to be sorted. With five kids, our pile grows quite large.

[Among the finds in the pile this year were two report cards. One from our second grader, who I will swear under oath that I did see but did not sign and return to the teacher. The other belongs to our oldest daughter. Thankfully, they both get high grades so no worries there.]

Regal Cinemas’ summer movie series begins this Tuesday and Wednesday at 10 a.m. with showings of “The Three Stooges” (a movie my husband looked forward to, but didn’t enjoy. Yet it scored loud belly laughs from our 5-year-old) and “Ice Age: Continental Drift.” The movies in this series all run together for me, but are always a hit with our two youngest boys. And, for just $1 per person, it’s a cheap way to give the kids that movie-theatre experience.

The rest of the schedule includes:
June 18 and 19: “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days” and “Parental Guidance”
June 25 and 26: “Mr. Poppers’ Penguins” and “Alvin and Chipmunks: Chipwrecked”
July 2 and 3: “Monte Carlo” and “Rio”
July 9 and 10: “Coraline” and “Paranorman”
July 16 and 17: “Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax” and “Big Miracle”
July 23 and 24: “Yogi Bear” and “Journey 2: The Mysterious Island”
July 30 and 31. “Racing Stripes” and “Happy Feet Too”
Aug. 6 and 7: “African Cats” and “Chimpanzee”

The movies offer a fairly inexpensive treat for the kids — especially on a rainy or particularly hot day, when the air conditioning is a welcome respite. I think we will try to hit two or three this year.

Another option is the drive-in in Wadsworth — for about $20 you can take the whole clan for a double feature. Aside from my husband, the rest of us always fall asleep during the second movie. We hear they have gone digital this year so the movie on the big outdoor screen should be a bit brighter.

They also are still showing movies at the old theater downtown. The Medina Community Theater is showing “Diary of a Wimpy Kid.”

Cool Beans Cafe has posted on its Facebook page that it, along with Lemonberry, are hosting a free movie night on the Square on June 22. They plan to show “Despicable Me” when it gets dark.

So it looks like movies will be in our future this summer as long as the schedule doesn’t get buried under the pile on the counter.