CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, OH - After a four-year hiatus, Big Fun, the beloved toy store that captured the hearts of Clevelanders for nearly three decades, has made a triumphant return to its former location on Coventry. Thanks to the unwavering passion and determination of owner Steve Presser, the iconic store has been resurrected, filling a void that had been keenly felt by the community since its closure in 2018.
Nestled in the heart of Cleveland Heights, Big Fun was far more than just a retail establishment. It was a cultural touchstone, a place where generations of Clevelanders could immerse themselves in a world of whimsy and nostalgia. The store's absence left a noticeable void in the neighborhood, but now, the magic is back.
Presser, a Cleveland Heights resident himself, felt a deep connection to the store and the community. "I live two blocks from here," he shared, a smile spreading across his face. "I drive past here all the time. I go to Tommy’s, the folks at Mac’s Backs know me pretty well, so it’s good to be home.”
The revival of Big Fun happened at lightning speed. Taking over the space on November 18th, Presser and his team transformed the empty store into a vibrant wonderland in just four and a half days. "Some people say it’s packed, some people say it’s empty compared to the OLD Big Fun," Presser chuckled. "But really, there’s lots of items in here."
But why reopen now, after all these years? Presser saw an opportunity to breathe new life into Coventry, a neighborhood that had experienced some vacancies in recent years. "I’m hoping that Big Fun opening up here will spur some development…something that will fill the space here…and jumpstart some activity on Coventry," he explained.
The response from the community has been nothing short of heartwarming. As customers step foot inside the revived Big Fun, the nostalgia is palpable. Presser beams with joy as he recounts their reactions. "The biggest thrill is watching my customers come in the door and say, 'Oh, we’ve missed you so much.' But no one has missed Big Fun more than I have. So, this has been emotionally and spiritually so fulfilling, it’s been wonderful."
Presser's commitment to the Cleveland Heights community runs deep. He is not only a store owner but a true son of the Heights. His love for Cleveland is evident in his words and actions. "I love Cleveland," he exclaims. "We walk our dogs through Lakeview Cemetery. That space alone is like a national park, and there are a lot of heroes in Cleveland." Holding up a Superman doll, he adds, "Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created the greatest superhero of all time, and he was from Cleveland."
Though the revival of Big Fun is temporary, ending on January 11th, the impact it has had on the community is immeasurable. Clevelanders now have the opportunity to relive the magic, even if just for a short time. As for the future, Presser remains optimistic. When asked about the possibility of a permanent reopening, he reflects, "The world isn’t there anymore. Never say never."
For now, the Holiday Pop-Up at Big Fun stands as a testament to the resilience and enduring spirit of Cleveland Heights. It's not just a store; it's a heartfelt reunion with a cherished part of the city's history.
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