Akron’s Whiskertin Lighting opens new showroom (photos)

April 11, 2018 GMT

Akron’s Whiskertin Lighting opens new showroom (photos)

AKRON, Ohio - Step into any bar or restaurant on Market Street in Akron’s Highland Square, and it’s likely you’ll see the work of Whiskertin Lighting illuminating the room. The creation of the rock ‘n’ roll, industrial-inspired fixtures began as the project of two friends, Aaron Novak and Glenn Miller, tinkering in the basement. Today, the handcrafted decor fills eateries, businesses and homes throughout the region.

This weekend, Whiskertin Lighting enters a new chapter with the opening of a home base at 1145 Highbrook St. The new space in the Firestone Park neighborhood will host both a showroom and a workshop area and will be open to the public 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturdays.

Whiskertin will have a grand opening 1-7 p.m., Saturday, April 14. Raging Avocado food truck will be on-site, along with coffee served by Lamp Lighter Roasting Company.

After the opening, you can head to a free after-party concert at 9:30 p.m. at The Matinee at 812 West Market St. The free show features Brooklyn’s Makewar and locals My Mouth is the Speaker. 

Whiskertin originated when Novak, who had been in the heating, venting and air conditioning business for two decades, saw a leftover piece of pipe and wanted to upcycle it into a light fixture. He called up Miller, who he knew from the local music scene, and they spent the night constructing the first lamp.

The need for a bigger space was a long time in the making. They’ve picked up work for places such as Smucker’s and Thirsty Dog Brewery’s tasting room. With the new space, they hope to gear their efforts towards attracting more interior designers and architects to take advantage of their ability to customize each light.

“We got to the point where we were doing some bigger projects, and we needed to have a space we can bring people back, have consultations,” Novak says. “This is definitely something we feel is going to help the business grow a lot.”

The new phase comes on the tail of another exciting development. Whiskertin has been participating in eBay’s “Retail Revival” training program. Launched this January in collaboration with the city of Akron, it guides entrepreneurs through the ins-and-outs of online retail.

“We have someone that’s mentoring us through the cycle of selling online,” Glenn says. “They help us fine tune some of our listings and do it in a way that’ll get better search results.”

Whiskertin will also do their part to support other local businesses. With the showroom set up like a mock home, the interior décor will all be sourced – and on sale – from makers and artists around the region. And while Novak and Miller built out almost the entirety of the showroom themselves, they’ll showcase furniture by Rustbelt Rebirth and a bar top by Contour Woodworks.

Novak describes it as “Willy Wonka’s factory, except lights instead of candy.” You’ll even find a sprawling mural by local artist Jake Kelly covering the wall.

The duo’s ambitions don’t stop there – the two recently auditioned to compete on the television reality show “Shark Tank.”

“We’re both completely worn out,” Novak says. “But seeing how far we’ve come keeps us pushing to get to that next level.”