Two years ago, Paige Beck went on what was practically the perfect Toledo date.
Now a 21-year-old nursing student at the University of Toledo, Ms. Beck grew up in Ottawa Hills and watched as downtown developed around Fifth Third Field and the surrounding bars and restaurants. She and her date took advantage of the downtown changes. They went out to eat, bought tickets to a Walleye game, and — as she remembers it — had an excellent time.
The date’s biggest problem wasn’t what Toledo had to offer. It was the guy: He was 30; she was 19.
“My mom definitely thought he was too old,” Ms. Beck said. “But I feel like Toledo has a lot to offer. A while ago, you wouldn’t just go downtown. Now, with all the bars there, it’s definitely hopping.”
But Ms. Beck’s experience in the Glass City’s dating scene doesn’t necessarily jibe with recently released rankings from online credit, savings, and finance firm WalletHub. The company compiled a list of America’s best cities for singles in 2017 based on factors like overall economics, recreational options, and dating opportunities, scoring each category and aggregating the final result.
Toledo placed at 115 of 182 locations.
Among five Ohio cities — Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland, and Akron are also on the list — Toledo ranks last, and by far Toledo’s worst rank came in the “fun and recreation” category, where it was 148.
Then again, locals like Ms. Beck don’t think Toledo is a bad spot for singles. Greyson Perry, an 18-year-old student at Owens Community College, said he’s taken some dates to local coffeehouses. He’s a barista at Rustbelt Coffee in downtown Toledo and calls his shop, and others like it, a “cute” date spot.
“There’s some stuff to do, but the place isn’t crawling with nightlife or activity,” Mr. Perry said. “We’re not a Cincinnati or a Cleveland, and I’m not sure we will be, but we take pride in where we live.”
Pride in the area is what helped motivate Rita Taylor-Teplitsky to start, “Ready Set Date Toledo.” Ms. Taylor-Teplitsky lived in Toledo as a child, but moved away to Scottsdale, Ariz., — which is 38 on WalletHub’s list — and started a similar business.
She recently moved back to Toledo and said she wants to get more singles together for mingling events and etiquette classes, though she hasn’t scheduled any events yet. One of her programs, which is what she calls “slow dating,” puts groups of six singles together for 20 minutes to taste wine before moving on to the next group.
“People don’t have time to go to bars, hang out, and look for someone,” said Ms. Taylor-Teplitsky. “Toledo needs to zip it up a little bit, have more events for our single people. I think it would make them feel a lot more confident to come in with a group like this.”
Bowling Green State University’s Wendy Manning, co-director of the university’s National Center for Family and Marriage Research, said WalletHub’s methodology didn’t account for critical factors that would benefit Toledo.
She said marriage rates are rising in Lucas County, while in other parts of the country — including many spots WalletHub tabbed as hot spots for singles — rates are stagnant or falling. People who start off single here might have more luck finding a long-term mate than they would elsewhere.
“Some of these are places where people go for vacation,” she said. “How will Toledo ever be as much fun as Las Vegas?”
That’s not to say people living here aren’t trying. Mr. Perry — a Toledo enthusiast who also works at Jupmode, a graphic design company that promotes Toledo — said the recently approved improvements to the marina district should boost the city’s recreational feel. The $50 million project will include commercial businesses and an upscale apartment complex.
“I’ve noticed a lot of empty buildings that are nice and just begging for businesses to come in,” Mr. Perry said. “There is an aggressive campaign to rejuvenate the area, which should help.”
Contact Jimmy Miller at firstname.lastname@example.org, 419-724-6050, or on Twitter @miller_jimmy.
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