Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Proper Noun of the Week #20: Troy Schwartz of Star Pop

At this point, it is abundantly clear to anyone reading (or, likely, sitting remotely close to anyone reading) that I love the little stretch of Cleveland where I live. I will never cease saying that Collinwood is where it is at in the 216, and that my own little nook of the 'wood, Waterloo Road, is the cherry of the entire neighborhood.

Every time a new business opens in the district, my heart sings, my soul rejoices, and my wallet loses a little bit of weight. This is particularly so because the businesses we tend to see open up these days are so darn funky and cool. I mean, there are at least three places to buy records, a handful of art galleries, a handful of places to get a drink and listen to live music, and couple places to buy that perfect and impossible gift you need to get. And now, thanks to Troy Schwartz, there is a money pit danger zone for anyone who has even somber memories of childhood to walk into ... Star Pop.

Schwartz, a Cleveland native, has been collecting toys and other pop culture collectibles since he was 9 years old. He is the fourth generation in his family to work in the toy business and both his great-grandparents and grandparents owned toy stores up until the 1960’s. The experience shows, both in the diverse volume of merchandise Star Pop stocks and in the insanely deep and broad knowledge Schwartz obviously possesses about the toy industry. However, even while Schwartz can get all Simpson's Comic Book Guy on you if you are in the mood for a deep conversation about He-Man castle molds, he'd just as soon help you find that special toy you remember having and loving in childhood. Or, better yet, that one you always wanted, but only now can afford.

1) How long have you been in Cleveland? And if you didn't grow up in Cleveland, where'd you relocate here from?

I was born and raised in Cleveland. I grew up in University Heights and graduated from Cleveland Heights High School and Miami University.

2) What is your favorite Cleveland memory?

It’s hard to come up with just one answer. From childhood I think it was the Saturday mornings that I spent with my father and sister; we’d get breakfast at the Shaker Square Arabica on our way to the Cleveland Museum of Art where my sister and I took classes (which they still offer and I suggest highly for kids). Sometimes on a nice day, we’d we’d walk through the Shaker Lakes on the way home as well. A lot of my other favorite memories are tied to concert going experiences, like seeing the Skatalites at the old Grog Shop or They Might Be Giants at the Beachland Ballroom.

3) How does (if at all) Cleveland influence your work and/or art?

Cleveland is a great city for buying and selling vintage. We have such a diverse and rich history in Cleveland that you never know what you’ll find running around the city. From a young age the museums, galleries, theaters, concert venues, antique & vintage stores, and libraries of this city have provided me with a great education on pop culture and collectibles which is what eventually lead to me opening up Star Pop.

4) What would be your ideal Cleveland day? Or, to put it another way, if it was your birthday and your nearest and dearest were all willing to do what you wanted, what would your day be like?

I usually celebrate my birthday with a big group of friends at a favorite restaurant. This year it might be Lava Lounge for dinner and dessert at Prosperity Social Club. Depending on the day I might also try to catch a movie at the Cinematheque, a performance from a local dance company like Meg Louise Dance or Inlet Dance Theater, or some other event around town.

5) Say you had a friend coming in for 24 hours and had never been to Cleveland before. What would you make sure they saw and did?

With just one day to experience the city I’d probably take them to Stone Oven or Eat at Joe’s for breakfast, the Cleveland Museum of Art and a walk around the lagoon. From there we would grab lunch at Nate’s Deli on W. 25th and a walk around the West Side Market followed by a drive around the city to take in some architecture and sculpture. After that I’d probably hit some vintage shops and wander back to Waterloo to show them Star Pop and to check out my neighbors like Low Life Gallery, Shoparooni, Music Saves, Blue Arrow Records, etc. After that it’s only a few minutes to get to Grovewood Tavern for dinner so we could get back in time to catch a concert at the Beachland Ballroom and Tavern.

6) What is something from another city you wish you could import to Cleveland?

Other than the obvious of importing sunshine in the winter, I could also go for more vegetarian restaurants, places to get cheap and/or amazing pizza by the slice, and coffee shops that are open past midnight. I’d also love to see better public transportation in Cleveland.

7) If you had the undivided attention of the mayor, city council, and county commissioners, what would be the one thing you'd ask for or tell them?

At the moment I’d simply ask them to follow through quickly and efficiently on their recently finalized plans for reclaiming the nearby Lakeshore Boulevard vacant K-Mart and Big Lots stores for use as a community recreation center complete with pools, classrooms, gymnasium, community meeting spaces, aerobics and fitness centers. This is something the Collinwood neighborhood will really benefit from and I’m excited to hear that it is moving forward.

To meet Troy, check out his vintage toy store, Star Pop, holding down the corner on Waterloo and East 160th, between Shoparooni and Low Life Gallery. Though he's been operating at various stages of readiness the last several weeks, SATURDAY marks his grand opening event. So stop on down, scoop up some holiday season scores (for you and, uh, other people, too), and enjoy some seasonal snacks as Troy wows you with Star Pop's eclectic mixture of “all things cool.”

1 comment:

John said...

Troy and Star Pop are great. I was at the grand opening, and would recommend the Waterloo Arts District to anyone looking for a fun new place to explore and frequent in Cleveland.