Situated at 13 West College Street, Ben Franklin Store and Mindfair Books is a prominent and enduring fixture in Oberlin's downtown area. Owner Krista Long offers the following history of the stores on her website:
Ben Franklin Stores were originally opened in the 1920’s and served many communities as the local general store, providing quality merchandise in a variety of categories at low prices. That concept has continued today at the Ben Franklin Store located in Oberlin, Ohio. While the Ben Franklin stores of the past were a chain, each store is now independently owned and operated.
The Oberlin Ben Franklin formally opened on September 26th, 1935, and was started by John Cochrane. Over the years, Cochrane Inc. opened a number of stores in Oberlin and the area. From the 1960’s to July 2001, the store was managed by Cochrane’s daughter Marianne.
Krista Long purchased the store from Cochrane, Inc in 2001 and has added to the classic variety store concept by adding new and used books, fair trade merchandise, and natural and sustainable products. While continuing continue to provide a broad range of merchandise for the budget conscious customer and the variety needed for local convenience, we strive to offer quality merchandise that meets the values of a green consumer. We also support local suppliers of honey, beauty products, maple syrup and other products.
This commitment to the local economy and the environment makes the Oberlin Ben Franklin an economically and environmentally responsible place for local residents and visitors to shop.
Oberlin is very fortunate to have a woman owned business with such a rich history. Unfortunately many Ben Franklin Stores are disappearing from the United States, being replaced by the "big box" stores.
One cannot put a price on the feeling of community and history that imbues every square inch of these stores.