2009 Best of Cleveland: Shopping

East-West Exchange
Big Fun; Melt Bar & Grilled

Big Fun
11512 Clifton Blvd., Cleveland
(216) 631-4386

Melt Bar & Grilled
13463 Cedar Road, Cleveland Heights

Pointing out reasons why people don’t need to cross the Cuyahoga River isn’t our thing. We battle our city’s East Side/West Side divide as much as anyone. But sometimes an idea is too good to be corralled on one side of town. The opening of a West Side Big Fun was one of those instances. The retro toy store is a Cleveland Heights landmark, and its second location along Clifton Boulevard is a spot-on, albeit smaller, version of its namesake. Everything you love about the original is here: vintage Star Wars figures, old-school video game consoles and the big wooden library card catalog packed with quirky trinkets. (We also dug the fresh touch of using offbeat board games as floor tiles.) Soon, the West Side will be returning the favor with its own export. Lakewood’s Melt Bar & Grilled — known for its huge cheese melts and menus on the sleeves of old record albums —will open a Cleveland Heights location in early 2010. You may just overdose on all the nostalgia.

Beer Coasters
Don’t Lose Heart beer coasters


If you love Great Lakes Brewing Co. beer (or any beer for that matter), you’re eventually going to need a place to set down that bottled goodness. That’s where Mikey Burton and the Cranky Pressman and their Don’t Lose Heart beer coasters come in. With an ode to our great state, the collaboration between the Cleveland-native graphic designer (who’s done work for the RTA and MTV2) and the Salem, Ohio, online letterpress service show their pride with shout-outs to Great Lakes beer, our area codes and The Ohio State University (check out the colors), all on cool Ohio-shaped paper coasters. And if beer isn’t your thing, flip it over and it instantly becomes a place for your pop.

Meat Market
Fligner’s Market

1854 Broadway Ave., Lorain
(440) 244-5173

It feels like a party in Fligner’s Market in Lorain. The meat counter runs the length of the store and, behind it, around 20 workers hustle to fill incoming orders. In business since 1924, Fligner’s is known for being cheap, especially on Wednesdays, when the weekly specials are offered. Boneless chicken breast for $1.39 a pound, strip steaks for $4.99 a pound ... at those prices, this party sees a lot of repeat guests — from places as far as Kentucky and New York. There’s reason for that, besides the prices: Fligner’s gets its meat from two local farms. It’s also one of the few places where you can order an entire side of beef and have it custom cut and blast frozen. And now they have cured meats, too. Fligner’s just opened its own smokehouse, where custom sausage and hot dogs are prepared.

Funky Rings
Banyan Tree

2242 Professor Ave., Cleveland
(216) 241-1209

Yeah, we know these aren’t real mood rings. But they’re pretty darn close. The selection of trendy rings at Banyan Tree offers fashionistas the ability to change their rings to match their personality, whether it’s romantic (go with the gold cluster flowers), funky (try the turquoise on for size) or modern (we love the black onyx). Owner Christie Murdoch travels about six times a year throughout the world to trade shows in Bali, Australia and Thailand to collect rings that come in sterling silver, glass, leather and wood, with some of them sporting semiprecious stones such as peridot and garnet. With prices ranging from $10 to $70, it’s easy for anybody to put a ring on it.

Skate Shop
West Side Skateshop

14047 Madison Ave., Lakewood
(216) 226-2470

West Side Skateshop is a funky, hodgepodge paradise for skaters and alt/punk fashionistas alike. You’ll get as much advice from its knowledgeable loitering regulars as from the employees. If you can’t find your favorite from among the 100-plus boards displayed along a rear wall (accessible via a sliding librarian’s ladder), you might want to pick up a custom West Side board. With a design resembling an old-fashioned Coca-Cola label, the skateboards are available in two colors, with the selection rotating every two weeks. And if you want to look as good off wheels as on, pick up a pair of West Side’s own Hooligan jeans, available in five washes. This, of course, is in addition to national-brand apparel, accessories, shoes and skating-related DVDs and tools that line the shop. But if it’s still not enough, roll by this fall when the owners hope to have an art gallery and screening room completed.

Cleveland T-shirt
C.L.E. Clothing Co.


Ha ha, very funny. We get it. A “Cleveland Low Life” shirt made to look like a Miller High Life label. The only problem with most 100 percent cotton tributes to living here is that they’re usually fashioned as some sort of slam. That was until C.L.E. Clothing Co. got in on the act, smashing that half-empty brand of pessimism with shirts celebrating the Richfield Coliseum, Dead Man’s Curve and our always-sunny sports disposition (“I love CLE” shirts in our teams’ colors with a helmet or basketball instead of a heart). Printed on American-and-proud-of-it American Apparel T-shirts, the designs are a show of hometown pride that proclaims your love for all things 216.

Custom Wedding Invites
Sobella Paper Boutique

2026 Murray Hill Road, Cleveland
(216) 229-1333

Your wedding guests deserve more than a preprinted cardstock invite. Send them premium, imported paper with embellishments (think ribbon and crystals) and your invitation will surely earn a permanent spot on their fridges. Sobella Paper Boutique helps mark your special day with custom wedding invitations (a minimum order of $2,500 is required) that incorporate touches such as a favorite painting or the lace on your wedding gown. They’ll even match the postage stamp to your design. Sobella also offers a more wallet-friendly option: Pick the colors, font and design scheme for a personalized — but not custom — set. The new Sobella Collection starts at $12 for an outer envelope, invitation, response set and enclosure card.

Bobby Pins


Bobby pins work hard for hardly any love. The inexpensive accessories are discreetly tucked away in our hair only to be discarded without a second thought. But local designer Martha Wozniak is giving them their due. Her handcrafted bobby pins, sold through her Etsy.com site BRadleyBB, are big, bold and bright. The fun, retro-inspired glass or plastic designs (think red hearts, polka dots and flowers) have us getting creative. We’ve been twisting up our hair, sweeping our bangs to the side — at $3 to $5 a piece we are doing whatever we can to show them some respect. If only she could make scrunchies cool, we’d be set.

Recycled Creation
From the Blue Bag

2085 W. 114th St., Ste. A, Cleveland
(440) 471-4191

The movement to reduce, reuse and recycle now has people thinking about creative ways to use items like wood and juice boxes. But empty wine, beer and liquor bottles? The ingenious idea comes from Deby Cowdin, creator of From the Blue Bag, who collects the bottles from area restaurants and other establishments. (Didn’t think she was drinking it all by herself, did you?) She turns her finds into cool cheese plates, ash trays and serving trays, saving them from a life in a landfill. The process of heating the glass and flattening it leaves her with many options. She can leave the label on or take it off. She can engrave anything (even wedding invitations, a popular request) or add embellishment such as colored glass beads and wire.

Movie Jewelry
Lingg Showroom

28500 Chagrin Blvd., Woodmere
(216) 378-2666

Megan Fox is hot. Guys want her. Girls want to be like her. We think we can help — just a little bit. Even if you aren’t on the run from robots like the star of Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, the sterling silver and leather bracelet she sports throughout the blockbuster will probably be the closest any of us will get. Designed by Canton native Dana Schneider, who is known for creating intricate yet playful jewelry for other movies such as X-Men and Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle, the bracelet is available at Lingg Showroom. It also comes in black leather, allowing you to dress like the stars 24/7.

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