Galion has changed.
I moved here in 1986 when I was 10 years old and start the sixth grade. At that time, Galion had four elementary schools: North, Renschville, Dawsett, and Wilma Crall.
Galion also had quite a stable and somewhat “booming” small town economy. JC Penney, Quay’s Drugs, Zip’z Ice Cream, and Mo’s Family Dining were on the corners of the Square uptown. And as you walked either direction east or west of the square you could find clothing stores, electronics, Ric’s News, and other retailers.
There was a gas station on every corner of the intersection of Portland Way and Harding Way.
We also had three full service grocery stores, and they were always busy.
As I said earlier, Galion has changed.
But even more so, the times have changed not just here, but everywhere else also.
We no longer have four elementary schools.
Instead, we have four beautiful new buildings that house pre-K through grade 12 that some communities around us are still doing without. As a parent, I’m thankful my kids are located in one campus area, with updated technology, in air-conditioned buildings that also are much more efficient and economical for our dollars as tax payers.
The face of uptown Galion has changed significantly, too.
We no longer have a department store that anchors our business on the square.
But neither do any of the small towns our size that are anywhere close by.
What we DO have, after years of empty store fronts, is the start of many new small businesses that are supporting each other in amazing ways.
It’s so nice to be able to pick up a gift for a teacher or friend at H&K Watkins or Poland True Value, or hear of a friend’s child having a birthday party at Cake & Icing, or even a paint party at Contemporary ArtSpace. And even better, if I personally need a quick wardrobe refresh I can stop in at The Topia for something fun to wear.
And thankfully, there is a varied selection of places to eat uptown. Big Plate Diner and the Whistle Stop Cafe offer great meals to fill your belly, and The Candi Bar is always a great stop for a special cup of coffee or baked good.
If you are looking to hang out and relax with friends, the 1803 Taproom and the almost-open Fox Winery will happily accommodate you or your group event.
Now let me be clear, NONE of these businesses have asked me to write this, nor are they looking for my endorsement. I am merely trying to point out a few positives in our community.
The city of Galion is not what it was when I moved here more than 30 years ago, but few small towns are. We have suffered economic downturn and hardship. We have lost some of our population for that reason, and businesses had to close their doors as a result.
But with the determination of a few people in more recent years, the tide is starting to turn.
Instead of complaining, start contributing.
The revitalization of an area is not a one- or two-person job.
Erin Miller is a reporter and photographer at the Galion Inquirer. Email her at email@example.com with comments or story ideas.