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Business is sweet for local candy purveyors

June 23,2018 11:10

All City Candy started providing candy buffets in January 2017, setting up displays to complement an event's theme or color scheme. The company began serving corporate clients in 2015 and business ballooned to 40-plus customers who bought more than ...


Elsewhere in the region, well-known nostalgia purveyors Tom Scheiman and Steve Presser have joined forces to create Sweeties Big Fun, scheduled to open at the Pinecrest mixed-use development in late June or early July.
The team-up combines b.a. Sweetie Candy Co., which has been selling candy on Brookpark Road in Cleveland for nearly 70 years, with Presser's beloved toy and pop culture store Big Fun, a Cleveland Heights mainstay that closed its doors this month after 27 years on Coventry Road.
The 2,155-square-foot shop, located in the center of the Pinecrest streetscape in Orange, will offer 1,000 different candy brands, as well as soft serve ice cream, homemade popcorn and a bevy of old-fashioned sodas. A walk-up window will allow busy patrons to order popcorn, soda and ice cream from outside, but they'll have to enter the colorful shop to peruse its candy selection.
"We have a great storefront; you know we're the place you can have fun," Scheiman said. "Walking into the store is an experience in itself."
Much like Big Fun, the new iteration will feature the kind of inventory that Presser's Coventry customers are accustomed to. Magic tricks and joke items will be featured along with a smattering of collectibles.
"It's going to be the best Big Fun with a twist," Presser said.
Decor merges the quirky and historic, highlighted by a varicolored 1968 Volkswagen bus hanging from the ceiling. A seven-foot-tall replica of the Eiffel Tower is surrounded by items from Cleveland's past, while area artists have been commissioned to produce installations representing the store's fun-loving modus operandi.
The hybrid candy/toy enterprise derives from a long working relationship between the owners, beginning in the 1990s when Scheiman sold candy to Big Fun from his sprawling Brookpark Road complex. Presser jokingly calls the nascent company a marriage of "the sweet and cheesy," built by a pair of entrepreneurs who know and love the region.
"Tom appreciates my quirkiness and creativity, and I appreciate his attention to detail and product mix," Presser said. "We're the same age, but we're kids at heart. It's been a really good partnership and match."
Scheiman expects a constant stream of visitors from on site apartments and a nearby assortment of hotels. The aim is to become a regional destination for tourists stopping at Pinecrest's host of eateries and retail.
"The Pinecrest folks saw us as the kings of our respective markets," Scheiman said. "We see (Sweeties Big Fun) as a scalable business with multiple locations throughout Northeast Ohio."
Randy Ruttenberg, principal at Pinecrest developer Fairmount Properties, said the store's mix of destination- and impulse-driven retail is a perfect fit for the promising shopping complex.
"Sweeties Big Fun is an example of a retailer that drives both type of traffic," Ruttenberg said. "Steve and Tom have a fun concept we're proud to have at this development."
For his part, Presser has bittersweet feelings about leaving his long-time Coventry Road home. Even so, he's excited about bringing joy to the community via a fresh — if comfortably familiar — retail opportunity.
"Brick and mortar is suffering throughout the country, but we're not a pure brick-and-mortar toy store," Presser said. "It's going to be a unique experience for our customers."

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