Big Fun Toys

On April Fools Day 1991, people discovered Big Fun in Coventry Village. Awed by the colorful decorations, circus-like atmosphere, and thousands of vintage toys, those patrons surely thought that the store's owners, Marvin Presser and his son Steve, had brought something entirely new to the area. They were right.

The first home of Big Fun was located where Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches now stands at 1827 Coventry Road. Empty and run down, Steve Presser deemed the former site of the C-Saw Café, a notorious biker bar, would be perfect for the new store.

The Pressers brought together many pieces of Cleveland's history to make Big Fun's first home. The floors in the front of the store were redone using wood from the lanes of the Kinsman-Lee Bowling Alley. Madison Five and Dime, which had operated in Lakewood, supplied Big Fun with its fixtures. To display some of their merchandise, the Pressers used 1910s jewelry cases from Taddeo's, a former Little Italy jewelry store. Illuminating the store were light fixtures from Higbee's, a department store that operated in Cleveland from the 1860s to the 1990s.

Big Fun made—and is filled with—history. Sixty percent to seventy percent of the store is filled with items Steve Presser has acquired from warehouses: "oodles and oodles of old merchandise," most of which has never been out of the original packaging. Presser also buys toys from people's childhoods. G.I. Joes, Star Wars Action Figures, Atari and other older gaming systems, Polly Pockets, and My Little Pony are just a few of the notable items that ensure patrons’ childhoods will never end. Moreover, Big Fun has bought and sold toys from as far back as the 1930s. That’s a lot of childhoods.

After Marvin's death in 1998, Steve Presser's mother, Beverly, became his partner until she passed away in 2005. “I was so happy to be able to work with both of them,” Steve recalls. “It was a real 'mom and pop' shop.”

In 2005, Steve Presser moved Big Fun to a much larger location across the street: the former space of High Tide, Rock Bottom at 1814 Coventry Road. Along with his merchandise, Presser brought over the old store's light fixtures, photo booth, glass cases, signs, the circus-like awning, and an enormous refrigerator retrieved from a mansion in Shaker Heights. After a quarter century, Big Fun still opens every day on Coventry Road, catering (and paying homage) to once and future kids, moms and pops.

Images

Audio

Putting Smiles on People's Faces
Big Fun owner Steve Presser talks about becoming a successful part of the community.
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Old Store
Big Fun owner Steve Presser talks about the pieces of Cleveland's history that went into the renovation of his old store.
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New Old Stock
Big Fun owner Steve Presser talks about warehouses and how they have helped him fill his store with "new old stock."
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Local Artists' Work at Big Fun
Big Fun owner Steve Presser talks about the local artists who have contributed their work to making Big Fun a unique and colorful store.
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