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What Cleveland's winter did to a local toy store

Children look in a toy store window, circa 1955

The Northeast's rough winter storm a few months back hit big business, federal workers, and Wall Street traders. But small business owners felt the cold impact as well.

Steve Presser, who owns of Big Fun Toy Store in Cleveland, Ohio, says sales were lower than expected.

“Mother nature was not nice to us over the winter," he says. "You know, when you have zero degree temperature and you have a foot of snow, the person who’s looking to buy a collectable toy just doesn’t venture down the street. “

Cleveland also saw record-breaking rainfall in June, which prolonged Big Fun Toy Store’s dry spell . But Presser says he’s an optimist and tries to avoid layoffs.

“In fact I don’t think... in the 23 years I’ve been in business [I've] laid off anybody," Presser says. "I’ve gone with the approach of spot hiring, obviously during seasonal… you know, holiday season and summer. So, I’ve added a couple part-time positions and I’m looking to develop more of a web presence. So I’m able to pick up more hirees that way.”

Regardless of the weather, Presser says Cleveland is making a comeback.

“We’ve always had a strong medical environment. We’re getting stronger in the technology industry. And Cleveland – they use the word ‘comeback’ – but we really are getting stronger.”

Cleveland’s strengthening industries and business has also made it a more appealing place to live, Presser says, and he's been able to expand to a new location in Columbus.

Presser is getting older, and he says he knows there’s an option to sell Big Fun. But for the meantime, he plans to stick around and watch his store flourish. 

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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